Politics

‘It was a mistake’ PM apologises for returning from D-Day ceremony early

Rishi Sunak has said it was a “mistake” to return from D-Day commemorations in Normandy early.

The prime minister was heavily criticised for not being at the final moments of the 80th anniversary D-Day ceremony on Thursday as he travelled back from France to the UK to record a TV interview.

On Friday morning, he issued an apology and said he cares “deeply about veterans”, but the mishap has left him open to attacks from other political parties as the election campaign enters its third week.

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“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,” he wrote on social media.

“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.

“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.”

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Rishi Sunak praises D-Day veterans


Other political parties used the “mistake” to attack Mr Sunak, saying it was “a dereliction of duty”.

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, posted on X after Mr Sunak’s apology, saying: “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.

“It is a total dereliction of duty and shows why this Conservative government just has to go.”

Labour’s shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook told Sky News he is “glad” Mr Sunak apologised and said it was worse because the reason he missed the event was to record an interview in which he said Labour would introduce £2,000 of tax rises – which Labour has called a lie.

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Lord Cameron (L) stood in for Mr Sunak for a photo with the French, German and US leaders. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Lord Cameron (L) stood in for Mr Sunak for a photo with the French, German and US leaders. Pic: Reuters

Mr Pennycook added: “I think it’s embarrassing. I think it’s a shameful dereliction of duty. He’s right to apologise, but the British public should ask themselves serious questions about a man who decides to make that decision in the first place.”

SNP minister Neil Grey also called it a “dereliction of duty” and told Sky News the PM had “ill-served” the memory of his grandfather who served on D-Day.

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“I think is utterly appalling and disgusting,” Mr Grey said.

“I think the offence that will be caused to the veterans community will be great.

“For the prime minister to think that a TV interview was more important than completing those commemorations is an appalling lack of judgement.”

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