Rishi Sunak criticised for leaving D-day event early ‘to record ITV interview’

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Rishi Sunak has been criticised for leaving the D-day commemorations in Normandy early on Thursday, with reports that he returned to the UK to do a prerecorded TV interview.

The prime minister attended an event at Ver-sur-Mer in northern France, which was also attended by King Charles and Queen Camilla, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

But he did not attend the late afternoon ceremony at Omaha beach, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, and instead returned to the UK. Paul Brand, ITV’s UK editor, said the prime minister returned from Normandy to do an interview.

He said the broadcaster was interviewing all the party leaders and had been working to secure a date with the Conservative leader for some time. Speaking on News at Ten, Brand said: “Today was the slot they offered us. We don’t know why.”

Tim Montgomerie, the founder of the grassroots Conservative Home website, told BBC Newsnight: “I want to put my head in my hands. If he came back for a political interview from the D-day commemorations that is indefensible.

“This is going to be the last big commemoration where survivors will be present,” he added. “I think it’s political malpractice of the highest order if Mr Sunak absented himself for an election interview on ITV.”

Keir Starmer joined world leaders including Macron and the US president, Joe Biden, at the event at Omaha beach alongside the defence secretary, Grant Shapps, and the foreign secretary, David Cameron. The Labour leader was photographed in conversation with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Keir Starmer greets Ukraine’s president Volodymyr ZelenskiyView image in fullscreen

Later on Thursday, ITV published an interview with Sunak in which he denied accusations from Starmer that he “lied” by arguing that Labour would hike taxes by £2,000, in claims that were criticised by the UK statistics watchdog.

ITV would not confirm when the released interview was recorded.

Chris Bryant, the Labour candidate for Rhondda and Ogmore, wrote on X: “So Sunak left the Normandy D-day landings commemoration to fly home to lie about lying. The rest is silence.”

The 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.”

A Conservative source played down the diplomatic impact of the prime minister’s absence and said Sunak will see Macron, Biden, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and other key leaders at the G7 summit in Puglia, Italy, which starts next Thursday.

Col Richard Kemp, a former British army commander in Afghanistan, told the Mirror: “I know there is a general election campaign to fight but this is a very significant anniversary of a major military achievement which led to freedom in Europe.

“It’s being attended by some of the veterans who may never attend another due to their age. I think it was very important that he showed his commitment to it.

“He should have stayed. As the PM of our country he should have been there to represent the country and to show our gratitude to those who fell.”

Source: theguardian.com

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