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Sunak apologises after skipping international D-Day ceremony for TV interview

07 Jun 2024 4 minute read
(Left to right) Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden attending the D-Day 80 International Ceremony at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. Photo Abaca Press/Alamy Live News/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak has apologised after skipping a major international ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day in order to carry out a General Election TV interview.

The Prime Minister said “it was a mistake” not to stay in France for the international event after he had attended the earlier British ceremony in Normandy.

Mr Sunak has come under intense criticism after it emerged he missed the event with fellow world leaders to head back to the UK for an ITV interview.

Mistake

The Prime Minister said: “I care deeply about veterans and have been honoured to represent the UK at a number of events in Portsmouth and France over the past two days and to meet those who fought so bravely.

“After the conclusion of the British event in Normandy, I returned back to the UK. On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer – and I apologise.”

The Prime Minister attended the UK national event at Portsmouth on Wednesday and then the British ceremony in Normandy on Thursday, the anniversary of the allied landings on D-Day.

But he left France before world leaders including US President Joe Biden gathered for the main international ceremony on Thursday afternoon.

Instead, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron was the senior UK minister at the event.

It was also an opportunity for Mr Sunak’s rival for the keys to No 10, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to mingle with world leaders on the global stage.

‘Honour’

In his apology on Friday, Mr Sunak said: “The 80th anniversary of D-Day has been a profound moment to honour the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our values, our freedom and our democracy.

“This anniversary should be about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The last thing I want is for the commemorations to be overshadowed by politics.”

Mr Sunak was condemned by political rivals and the decision has also caused unease in Tory ranks.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said Mr Sunak’s actions had brought shame to the office of prime minister.

“One of the greatest privileges of the office of Prime Minister is to be there to honour those who served, yet Rishi Sunak abandoned them on the beaches of Normandy,” Sir Ed said.

“He has brought shame to that office and let down our country.

“I am thinking right now of all those veterans and their families he left behind and the hurt they must be feeling. It is a total dereliction of duty and shows why this Conservative Government just has to go.”

‘Skipping off’

For Labour, shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth said: “The Prime Minister skipping off early from D-Day commemorations to record a television interview where he once again lied through his teeth is both an embarrassment and a total dereliction of duty.

“Our country deserves so much better than out-of-touch, desperate Rishi Sunak and his chaotic Tory Party.”

The Prime Minister sat down with ITV on Thursday to defend claims he had made about Labour’s tax plans, having left commemoration events in France before the gathering of the world leaders on Omaha Beach.

The broadcaster said the timing of the interview, which will not be aired in full until next week, had been offered by the Conservatives.

He had appeared in Normandy earlier in the day to pay tribute to veterans but returned to Britain before the ceremony was over, while his rival Sir Keir remained alongside Mr Biden, Emmanuel Macron and the Prince of Wales.

It later emerged that Mr Sunak had given a broadcast interview on the same day, a clip of which was shared by broadcaster Paul Brand.

Mr Brand told ITV News At Ten: “Today was the slot we were offered … we don’t know why.”


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Riki
Riki
10 days ago

They will never let it go – we will be expected to remember that war until the year 5000 at this rate. It’s not that they truly care, they use it as a political tool to beat people over the head with. The UK does it better than anyone else in fact!

Karl
Karl
10 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Exactly, its getting worse and the message is long forgotten. They are going around callling people the pre war generation, failing us all again if true. time to get over it, not adding more memorials and markers. Live life for the freedom given, not in constant mourning.

Mawkernewek
10 days ago
Reply to  Riki

There’s nothing wrong with remembrance, but I do think the politicians shouldn’t be so much a part of this. This is probably the last one of these anniversaries where one of the leaders was alive during World War II depending on whether Biden is reelected.
What I really found distasteful is how this is used to prop up Atlanticist foreign policy in the present day, along with its wars proxy or otherwise.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago

The Fat Shanks effect…

cablestreet
cablestreet
10 days ago

More Weasel Words from Where’s Wally?.

Last edited 10 days ago by cablestreet
Frank
Frank
10 days ago

I would have thought that the PM should have been one of the last people to leave considering he was representing the country that quite rightly declared the 1939-45 war against Germany. Most other representatives attending were allies of Britain.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago

How many votes has that shared with the other parties?

What ‘fools’ they must be in Sunak’s inner sanctum/brain directing the travel of the UK once again into the international ditch…how much are bullet-proof trainers…?

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
10 days ago

I really do have this ongoing hunch that Sunak will be gone before the election. Apart from facing the real possibility and humiliation of being a sitting PM losing his seat, he has, deliberately in my view, planted this political suicide bomb to get himself out of the game by doing something that he will have known would spark widespread outrage and derision. He didn’t have to do anymore to prove he is an unfit leader but he’s going over and above to ram the point home.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago

Ex Winchester College head-boy ducks his duty, poor boy, so poorly educated…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

“On reflection it was a mistake” perhaps Rishi Ji you could reflect on the lives and billions you have cost this country…if only you and Fat Shanks had stayed in America we would be so much better off as a country…curse you both…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Now we hear that he had never meant to be there in the first place, there must have been a helicopter hovering in the background…

Only the 2nd Battalion The South Wales Borderers represented Cymru that day, has there been any mention of them in the Welsh Press ?

I have not found any mention of Indian troops being present, but the 4th Indian Division had just fought their way to Monte Cassino…Perhaps Sunak had taken the D-Day Dodgers ‘slur’ to heart who knows he is so ‘precious’…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

As for Lord Snooty, has he been photo-shopped from a cleaned-up screen grab of Steve Bell’s cartoon image of him with the prophylactic rubbed out by any chance, his colour is the same shade of puce?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Is there a ‘Welsh Press’ or is it like our branch of the Starmer Club…

Nia James
Nia James
10 days ago

The Tories always feign pride and patriotism when their only commitment and loyalty is to themselves and their ever-expanding bank accounts.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
10 days ago

Pathological liar Rishy Sunak has reached a new low. What a disgrace to skip a D-Day ceremony to film an interview. Pathetic little man. May I remind him of a 104 yr old US vet who travelled thousands of miles only to die en route to Normandy to commemorate his fallen colleagues. Listening to the rhetoric used by world leaders yesterday, especially warmonger Joe Biden, whose words were rang hollow seeing over 30,000 innocient men , women & children who have died horrible deaths in Gaza & West Bank at the hands of Israel thanks to intelligence and weaponry provided… Read more »

Why vote
Why vote
10 days ago

PM should be ashamed of himself. Where would he be now if 80 years ago the soldiers storming the beaches had said let’s not bother, he would not have the position of power he has today, to run off to be interviewed no self sacrifice on his behalf he should have stayed rooted to the spot until the ceremony was over.

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 days ago

I disagree with most commenters on here. The commemoration would be so much better, more sincere, if all those politicians of all stripes just cleared off after a few minutes. The day belonged to the people, especially those people who survived the horror of war and came to pay sincere tribute to their fallen comrades.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
10 days ago

Weather you agree with the D day ceremony which i do or whatever your political views are because people on here to me seem to support Plaid Labour and Tory he was wrong to leave when all political leaders BUT HE IS NO LEADER where there for that ceremony except him he came back to try and cover up the lie that he accused Labour going to put £2000 up in Tax which was a Blatent lie and the people who he said done the civil service said no such thing he Sunak might be British born but he is… Read more »

CapM
CapM
10 days ago

Give him a break.

He’s got nothing in his background to suggest he can use some past experience in order to empathise with the ordinary young men conscripted in the army who faced machine gun fire on the beaches of Normandy.

Now if those landing craft had been full of multi-millionaires I’m sure he’d have stayed for the afternoon .

Mawkernewek
10 days ago

I’m disappointed again this site is referring to David Cameron as Lord.

Les Cargot
Les Cargot
10 days ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

Could have been worse, could have called him “Overlord” !

Last edited 10 days ago by Les Cargot
Frank
Frank
10 days ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

That’s the reward the hierarchy get for running away from their duties when the going gets tough.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
10 days ago

The d-day landings were the start of the push back against the nazi dictatorship of Europe, they “fought for our freedom” is a phrase often used by politicians.

Our freedoms are slowly getting eroded with limits on the right to protest, with police given more and more powers.

And, if fishi rishi and the tories win the election they are highly likely to take britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights, to enable deportations to Rwanda, the organisation Britain was instrumental in creating in the aftermath of the second world war!

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