‘I’ve had worse reviews’ – Ben Elton defends calling Rishi Sunak a sociopath

Ben Elton appeared on the BBC 1 current affairs programme, Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
Ben Elton appeared on the BBC 1 current affairs programme, Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Comedian Ben Elton, who called Rishi Sunak a “mendacious narcissistic sociopath” at the weekend, has defended criticism of his comments, saying if that is “the worst he gets he should read some of my reviews”.

The Blackadder writer came under fire following his appearance on BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg which also featured an interview with the Prime Minister.

Asked whether he had been personal towards the PM by Nick Ferrari on his LBC breakfast show, Elton said: “It was personal from me, he’s a prime minister.

“I’ve had some slagging off in my time and if that’s the worst he gets he should read some of my reviews.

“I was giving a personal reaction as a Londoner and as a Briton who just made a documentary about our rail service, he was just talking about our health service.

“The idea that there’s no alternative than what they’re offering, I’m sorry, it was a personal reaction.

“The BBC didn’t know I was going to say it but then I didn’t know they were going to play that word salad and then ask me to comment on it.”

During the PM’s interview on Sunday, he urged those battling the cost-of-living crisis to hold their nerve over interest rate hikes and stressed there was “no alternative” to stamping out inflation.

Mr Sunak also claimed that the pandemic was responsible for increasing NHS waiting lists after Kuenssberg said they were at “dreadful” levels.

Following the interview, Elton – who created the original script for musical We Will Rock You along with writing for Blackadder and The Young Ones – called the comments an “extraordinary Orwellian, meaningless, evasive word salad”.

The 64-year-old said: “I sort of believed maybe he’s kind of a bit more decent, and it turns out, he’s as much of a mendacious, narcissistic sociopath as his previous boss.

“This man literally, he seemed to be making a principle of the fact that he resigned from a government that he’d served loyally and tried to keep propped up for numerous years.

“He’s trying to boast about having worried about inflation while he was chancellor of the exchequer under (Boris) Johnson.”

In response, Conservative MP Martin Vickers told the Independent: “Elton sounds even more out of touch with mainstream opinion than (Labour leader) Keir Starmer.”

Referring to Sir Elton John playing Glastonbury on Sunday, Tory MP Steve Brine said: “I would think most people in the country are more interested in hearing from another Elton.”

Elton also told LBC: “I really, really wanted to hear some proper commitment (from the PM), some proper principle, and some actual new ideas.

“He literally didn’t say anything expect for the fact that ‘I’m brilliant, I will sort everything out and I have zero responsibility for the previous 13 years of Tory government’. ‘I was born six months ago when I became PM’.

“I’m sorry it made me angry and I did not set out to have a go.”

He also said he was “really sad” that his Channel 4 documentary Ben Elton: The Great Railway Disaster, airing on Monday, “scarcely” had a mention during Kuenssberg’s political interview programme.