The briefcase's color was edited by Sky News in this video report from 2020 to make a point about the then-upcoming U.K. budget being "green."
On October 25, 2022, Rishi Sunak was appointed as the prime minister of the U.K., days after former Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned from the position, six weeks after her September win against Sunak. Following this, social media has seen an uptick in content about Sunak.
One such Facebook post alleged Sunak's red briefcase was seen changing colors in a video, proving that we exist in a movie or a simulation. The user also shared a clip of a video news report by Sky News, a media outlet, in which Sunak can be seen coming out of 11 Downing Street with a red briefcase that changes to a green briefcase as he passes behind a random car on the street. Many others shared the video to claim Sunak is a magician, the world is a film in which humans are actors, and the color change is a glitch in the matrix. The video has been circulating since March 2020 with this claim, which we found to be misleading. At the time, Sunak was the Chancellor of the Exchequer under then Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
On March 10, 2020, a day before Sunak was due to present the Budget in the U.K. Parliament, Sky News published this video on YouTube with the headline, "Will the budget tackle climate change?" The video's caption states, "While coronavirus will dominate the budget, climate campaigners are hoping the Chancellor's first spending round will be the greenest yet." The section of the video dealing with the Budget carries a voiceover, stating that 2020 is a critical year for climate change and asks how COVID-19 will affect what was touted as a green budget. We also noticed that the color of the briefcase or the 'Budget Box' changes to green when the reporter speaks about the green Budget, which was Britain's first post-Brexit Budget.
On the same day, Sky News correspondent Jonathan Samuels tweeted in response to a video thread questioning the changing color of the briefcase, stating that this was done by their climate change correspondent and video editor to pose the question, "How green will the budget be?"
Additionally, Rhiannon Williams, a former Climate Change specialist producer with Sky News, responded to the same thread saying that she had produced the piece and explained that she had inserted "just a small color switch to emphasize the need for a green budget." She attached the link to the video report, noting, "It's in the context of a climate/budget look ahead piece,"
Further, we noted that on March 11, 2020, BBC News posted a video on Facebook of Chancellor Sunak with his team standing outside 11 Downing Street with the budget box before presenting his first budget. The box can be seen to be red throughout the roughly 1-minute clip. Getty Images also published an image of Sunak from March 11, captioned "Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak poses for pictures with the Budget Box outside 11 Downing Street on March 11, 2020." This image also showed him with a red box.
The March 2020 Budget by the U.K. government focussed on reducing taxes on zero-emission vehicles, enforcing the plastic packaging tax, the announcement of the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Infrastructure Fund, and Green Gas Levy, among other initiatives to grow a greener economy.
Therefore, it is clear that the color of the 'Budget Box' changing from red to green is neither proof of the world being a simulation, a movie, or a glitch in the matrix. It had a much simpler explanation - that the producer of the video tweaked the color as a device to raise a relevant question.
A Sky News correspondent and a video editor used a visual effect to make an editorial point on climate change has been taken out of context. Sunak's briefcase did not actually change colors while he was walking - it was simply a video effect. Hence, we have marked this claim as false.