Rishi Sunak and Elon Musk shake hands in front of a backdrop reading "Business connect"

Why Is British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Cozying Up to Elon Musk?

It seems like Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is looking for a new job. Whether that be as a talk show host or as a “tech bro,” as radio host James O’Brien called him on LBC, we’re not really all that sure.

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On November 2, Sunak sat down for 40 minutes to “interview” Elon Musk in what is being called a “bizarre” event during his AI Safety Summit. They sat down to chat at Lancaster House, which had previously been used as a set for The Crown. Throughout their Q+A, it appeared that Sunak was just happy to be there, grinning at “Evil Elon” as though he was his next meal and telling him, according to The Guardian, “You are known for being such a brilliant innovator and technologist.” Is he, though?

The bootlicking wasn’t exactly one-sided, however, as Musk praised the PM’s efforts—whatever they might be, no one seems to be sure—to regulate the rapid development of AI technology. He said, “Having a referee is a good thing.” That might sound promising, but unfortunately, owing to the X (formerly Twitter) owner’s record, it’s really not.

From becoming best friends with AI programs to discussing possible dangers like angry humanoid robots and comparing future scenarios to James Cameron’s Terminator films, the pair really filled their boots.

Sky News journalist Sam Coates kept laughing in disbelief while summarizing the event and said, “I can barely believe I’m saying all of this.” He reported that the only questions allowed came from businessmen and not from the media, which makes it seem like this whole charade was an excuse for some sort of fan club meeting rather than a serious conversation about the dangers and benefits of AI—perhaps Sunak had enough of the serious chatter at the actual summit.

Similarly, Zoe Kleinman, who reported for the BBC, posted, “This has to be one of the most bizarre work events I’ve ever covered. I walked back into the newsroom afterward saying, ‘What just happened there?!'”

The Tory leader has been accused by the opposition and others of cozying up to Musk so that he can inevitably secure a job in the tech sector once his time in Downing Street is over. (Fingers crossed that will be soon.) Shadow technology secretary Peter Kyle said, “Unfortunately, Rishi Sunak again allowed himself to be distracted from the serious issues at hand, perhaps with one eye on his future career.” The Guardian reported that Sunak alluded to his time as PM coming to an end at the event, as he said that elections would be taking place worldwide, and we may soon see one here in the U.K., as well.

Here’s hoping.

(featured image: Kirsty Wigglesworth – WPA Pool/Getty Images)


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Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.