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The curious case of the absent spouse on the campaign trail

Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have opted to more or less pass themselves off as singletons during the leadership race

Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire/PA Images

With varying degrees of reluctance, the other halves of Tory leadership candidates have always made themselves available to the media in the past, but Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have chosen to more or less pass themselves off as singletons.

Sunak’s reluctance to parade his wife Akshata Murthy is understandable – it would resurrect the story of her non-dom tax status and her billionaire father – but Truss’s husband, Hugh O’Leary, has been conspicuous, too, by his absence at her side. Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times last weekend briefly alluded to him as being “a member of the wallflower category of political spouses”.

Little is known about O’Leary, but he is apparently an accountant and chose to stick with his wife after her 18-month affair with the Tory MP Mark Field became public knowledge.

Intriguingly, I hear Truss is less embarrassed about the affair than O’Leary’s position on Brexit, which doesn’t accord with her current one (she was previously a fervent Remainer). 

She’s already been embarrassed by her father, John Truss, emeritus professor of pure mathematics at the University of Leeds, letting it be known that he is “so appalled” by his daughter’s “conversion to extreme right wing politics” that they can no longer talk about it.

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