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Rishi Sunak shamefully Skips D-Day commemorations

Updated: Jun 11

Rishi Sunak has shown his true colours this week, prioritising a TV interview over the 80th anniversary of D-Day commemorations.

In other words, Sunak chose himself over the country. He chose politics over patriotism. 

In his Conservative leadership bid in 2022, he declared that his fundamental values were “patriotism, fairness, hard work”. Yesterday’s events were perhaps the PM’s best opportunity to demonstrate that patriotism, and he failed spectacularly. 

First we learnt that he had left early to attend a TV interview, and then it was revealed that he initially wasn’t going to attend at all, and that his short visit was merely a compromise. However, he has since denied this.  

The result was David Cameron, current Foreign Secretary and former Prime Minister, filling in for Sunak for the remainder of the day. Cameron’s photo with world leaders Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, and Olaf Scholz will haunt Rishi Sunak’s campaign. This is his Ed Miliband bacon sandwich. This will be the moment remembered for years to come as the gaffe that lost Sunak the election. 

We have become so used to Sunak’s embarrassing moments and dishonest behaviour that the significance of this latest slip-up could be overlooked. 

He chose to do a pre-recorded interview, not set to air until next week, in which he likely talked about his defence spending pledges and how Labour can’t be trusted, all the while missing the 80th anniversary commemoration of Britain’s finest military triumph. This event was broadcast around the world, with Sunak’s absence a humiliation for the UK. 

Whatever Sunak might say about the dangers of a Labour government, Keir Starmer did not leave the commemoration early. Starmer’s truly statesman-like behaviour will reassure voters that his party can be trusted to represent Britain on the international stage. 

The Prime Minister has admitted that “it was a mistake not to stay in France longer” and apologised for his error. But now that we know his initial plan was not to attend at all, despite no.10’s denial, this apology is meaningless. 

He also said he didn’t want D-Day to be overshadowed by politics. His own actions did precisely that, putting general election campaigning above his obligations as a statesman. 

No contemporary event should overshadow the historical significance of D-Day. Thousands of allied troops from Britain, America, Canada and other nations  conducted the largest amphibious invasion in history to liberate Nazi-occupied France. The event serves as a symbol for freedom in the Western world. It was the beginning of the end for Hitler and Nazi Germany, and we owe infinite gratitude to those brave men for the freedom and peace we enjoy today.

But for Rishi Sunak, the 80th anniversary of our nation’s finest hour was merely an inconvenient distraction from his important election campaign.

Voters across Britain will be furious at Sunak’s actions and rightly so. Two thirds of voters in a poll published by the Telegraph said Sunak leaving early was ‘unacceptable’. In an era of out of touch, elitist, unpatriotic and unsympathetic politicians, this may be the worst misjudgement in living memory. Expect the British people to punish Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives at the election, consigning the party and his political career to extinction.

It is dumbfounding how this was allowed to happen. Older voters, typically more patriotic, are the Conservatives’ main voter base, and will be apoplectic with fury at Sunak’s actions. How did his advisers, or Foreign Secretary David Cameron, fail to warn him that this would cripple his already poor public reputation? Was he not able to reschedule this ITV interview, given that he must have known about it ahead of time?

The Tory campaign had already got off to a rocky start, and the return of Nigel Farage has only worsened their electoral prospects. The latest YouGov poll put Reform just 2 points behind the Tories and Labour 21 points ahead. 

Reform UK was already poised to prevent Tory victories and perhaps even steal a few seats, but Sunak’s gaffe will be the final straw for many disgruntled Conservative voters. I expect their polling ratings will drop even further, handing Labour a 200+ seat majority, and perhaps allowing Reform UK to become the de-facto right-wing opposition. 

Rishi Sunak leaving D-Day commemorations early is nothing short of a disgrace, and voters will rightly punish him on the 4th of July.

Image: Chief Photographer's Mate (CPHOM) Robert F. Sargent, U.S. Coast Guard

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