The PM apologized for leaving D-Day commemorations early

Ars Technica

3 hours ago By Jennifer McKiernan , Political reporter, BBC News Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has apologised after a backlash for leaving D-Day commemorations in France early.
Mr Sunak said his itinerary for D-Day events had been set “weeks ago” and he had attended other events with veterans, including in Portsmouth.
The D-Day commemorations included a British event at Ver sur Mer, which the prime minister and King Charles attended, but Mr Sunak left before the international commemoration on Omaha Beach.
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said: “In choosing to prioritise his own vanity TV appearances over our veterans, Rishi Sunak has shown what is most important to him.”
Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer said veterans “will feel pretty raw” – and added that “personally it’s a bit crushing” but he would stand by the PM.
Jack Hemmings, 102, a World War Two pilot who travelled to Normandy for the commemorations told the BBC Mr Sunak’s early departure was “a wrong decision”.
Tim Montgomerie, the founder of Conservative Home, told BBC Newsnight that leaving the commemorations for an interview would be “indefensible”.
If he came back for a political interview from the D-Day commemorations that is indefensible.”


three hours before.

By Jennifer McKiernan, BBC News’s political correspondent.

After receiving criticism for departing early from the D-Day commemorations in France, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued an apology.

Mr. Sunak has been charged with neglect of duty after arriving early for an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings, which is regarded as the largest gaffe of the general election campaign thus far.

Mr. Sunak left Foreign Secretary David Cameron to act in his place and returned to the UK on Thursday, while world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, gathered to pay their respects.

After attending a British event, the prime minister decided to leave. “On reflection, that was a mistake, and I apologise,” he said to reporters. “.

In addition to having attended other events with veterans, including ones in Portsmouth, Mr. Sunak stated that his schedule for D-Day events had been finalized “weeks ago.”.

“I returned home before the international leaders event later in the day,” he stated, having taken part in all of the British events with British veterans.

“Now that I think about it, I should have apologized. ****.

As part of his apology, the prime minister expressed his hope that politics would not “overshadow” the “ultimate sacrifice” made by those who risked their lives.

During Friday night’s BBC election debate, Conservative Penny Mordaunt referred to Mr. Sunak’s decision to resign as “completely wrong” and said he had every right to apologize.

King Charles and the prime minister attended a British event at Ver sur Mer as part of the D-Day commemorations, but Mr. Sunak departed before the global remembrance on Omaha Beach.

On the other hand, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer remained at the event until the very end, as confirmed by the party. It is suggested that Mr. Sunak came back to record an interview for ITV.

Jonathan Ashworth of Labour stated: “Rishi Sunak has demonstrated what matters most to him by putting his own ostentatious TV appearances ahead of our veterans. “.

While many veterans made the effort to get out of their wheelchairs and salute the King, Sir Keir expressed his shock at how difficult it had been for them to get there.

“I felt it was really important to be there to pay my respects to them and to those who did not return, and to actually say thank you,” he stated.

“It is the actions of Rishi Sunak that he must take responsibility for. There was nowhere else I was going to be. “.

David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, defended the PM’s “frankness” after he replaced Mr. Sunak at the international gathering alongside other world leaders.

Following the British event, Mr. Sunak left. Lord Cameron commented, “It’s not surprising as we are in the middle of an election campaign and he had a longstanding plan to return after that.”.

“But after giving it some thought, he admitted that he wished he had stayed for the later event, and I think it speaks well of him that he has been so honest about it. “.

Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer said that although he personally finds it “a bit crushing,” he will support the PM and that veterans “will feel pretty raw.”.

“I believe he’s done the right thing to apologize—it was an error that shouldn’t have happened,” he stated.

It goes without saying that some will try to use this as a political platform and attack him. I’m not going to hang out with them.

This was an error, and I believe that mistakes are made by people. I’ll keep fighting for him even though he’s acknowledged it and apologized. “.

He said that Mr. Sunak and his spouse have been “deeply committed to this over many years” and urged people to keep in mind government decisions on veteran’s issues, particularly those pertaining to legacy prosecutions in Northern Ireland.

However, Muriel, 90, of Carlisle, whose father was fighting in Italy on D-Day, expressed her disgust with Mr. Sunak on BBC Radio 5 Live, saying his departure had brought her to tears.

He’s our prime minister, and he was speaking on my behalf, the woman remarked. It seems incredibly incorrect to me.

I thought it was terrible and spent most of the time crying while I watched it from half past seven.

“He can forget it if he thinks I will vote for him once more. “.

A World War II pilot who traveled to Normandy for the remembrance, Jack Hemmings, 102, told the BBC that Mr. Sunak’s early departure was “a wrong decision.”.

“He chose to hold an election in front of the thousands of dead. “.

Hemmings, Mr. who is a member of the Liberal Democrats, flew the Lockheed Hudson in a maritime patrol capacity while serving with 353 Squadron to defend the Bay of Bengal against Japanese invasion.

Conservative Home founder Tim Montgomerie said on BBC Newsnight that it would be “indefensible” to skip the celebrations in order to do an interview.

“I want to put my head in my hands,” he uttered. It would be insupportable if he returned for a political interview following the D-Day observances. “.

During a segment on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, former Downing Street communications chief Sir Craig Oliver criticized Mr. Sunak, saying he “didn’t get what it is to be a prime minister” and that D-Day ought to have been blocked out all along.

“It’s a very important moment for the country, but it’s also a very important moment to demonstrate your leadership qualities as prime minister,” he declared.

And Rishi Sunak’s issue this morning is that he’s been charged with not understanding what it means to be prime minister and what his responsibilities are in that role. “.”.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, referred to the choice as “a dereliction of duty.”.

“One of the biggest honors of being prime minister is being present to pay tribute to veterans, but Rishi Sunak left them on the Normandy beaches.

“It demonstrates why this Conservative government must fall; it is an utter neglect of duty. “.

Leader of the Reform Party Nigel Farage wrote on X, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to help raise funds so that veterans could travel to the Normandy event, calling himself “honoured.”.

He remarked, “Who really believes in our people, him or me? Rishi Sunak could not even be bothered to attend the international event above Omaha Beach.”.

The BBC has requested a statement from CCHQ.

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