Rishi Sunak confronted by student asking why he ‘hates young people so much’

The interaction happened on Wednesday at a pub in Drewsteignton, west Devon.

Henry, 16, confronted the Prime Minister at a pub (henryhassell/TikTok)
Henry, 16, confronted the Prime Minister at a pub (henryhassell/TikTok)

A 16-year-old singer-songwriter who confronted Rishi Sunak and asked him why he “hates young people so much” said he felt the Prime Minister tried to “escape the question”.

Student Henry Hassell, who lives in Drewsteignton, in west Devon, told the PA news agency he had the conversation with the Prime Minister on Wednesday at The Drewe Arms, a local pub.

A video of the interaction, which was shared by Henry on TikTok and has since been shared across other social media platforms, shows the 16-year-old questioning Mr Sunak on his plan to enforce mandatory national service if the Conservatives are elected, and asking: “I was just going to ask, why do you hate young people so much?”

The Prime Minister can be heard replying: “No, you’ll have a choice, you’ll have a choice.”

Henry Hassell confronted Rishi Sunak at a pub
Henry Hassell confronted Rishi Sunak at a pub

When Henry mentioned he has taken part in volunteering opportunities his whole life, Mr Sunak replies: “Then you’ll love it, you’ll love it,” as he heads out of the pub.

After Henry asked: “Why do I have to do it all again when I’m finally coming out of education?” Mr Sunak responded: “I wouldn’t view it like that. A culture of service is a good thing for our country, and you’ll have a choice.”

Speaking to PA, Henry said: “Recently, there’s been a lot of stuff going viral on my TikTok and Instagram about how young people who are turning 18 if the Tories get elected are going to have to do a year’s national service mandatory or going to have to volunteer once every month.

“Obviously there’s been a lot of negative reactions to that from people my age, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask Rishi Sunak himself why he was doing it and to be honest, why he hated young people so much.”

He said of Mr Sunak: “I thought he was trying to escape the question.

“He started scuttling out the pub and when I asked the question, as you can hear in the video, he said ‘you’ll love it, if you’ve done it before, you’ll like it’, but I was thinking: I’ve done volunteering, I’ve busked for cancer research on the streets because I’m a singer-songwriter and I’ve busked in schools for a few weeks with my mum, who works in a school.

“I thought: if I’ve done this volunteering already, why does it have to be mandatory and when I’m finally coming out of education, why do I have to do it all again?”

Henry said Rishi Sunak seemed to try and escape answering his question
Henry said Rishi Sunak seemed to try and escape answering his question (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Henry claimed when Rishi Sunak left the pub, he greeted elderly women coming to see him excitedly, but when he tried to shake the hand of the Prime Minister he “completely ignored me and went to another lady”.

“That really put into perspective how he treats the different age demographics,” he added.

The teenager said while he is not able to vote in the upcoming General Election, nor is he a member of any political party, his family supports Labour and he would vote for Labour when he is able to vote.

Henry said it has been “crazy” to see the video “blowing up”, with close to 100,000 views on TikTok.

“I’ve been getting lots of emails and texts from different places and people and it feels good to get that opinion out there and show that there is a lot of disagreement with the younger generation to the Tory party,” he added.