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Sunak attends a commemorative ceremony marking the anniversary of the D-Day Allied landings in Normandy. He left before the international part of the ceremony. Alamy Stock Photo

Rishi Sunak apologises for leaving international D-Day ceremony for election TV interview

Sunak has acknowledged that he should have stayed in France for the international event to mark the 80th anniversary of the allied landings.


BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak has apologised on social media after leaving a major international ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day to carry out a General Election TV interview.

Sunak today said it was a “mistake” to not remain in France for the international event.

He attended the British ceremony in Normandy yesterday, but left France before world leaders including US President Joe Biden gathered for the main international ceremony in the afternoon.

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

cameron In Sunak’s absence, David Cameron lined up with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Labour leader Keir Starmer remained alongside Biden, France president Emmanuel Macron and Prince William.

It has since emerged that he missed the event with fellow world leaders to head back to the UK for an interview with ITV that will not air in full until next week.

“After the conclusion of the British event in Normandy, I returned back to the UK,” said Sunak in a post on X.

“On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer – and I apologise.”

He added: “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.”

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

Dan Hodges, a commentator with the UK Mail on Sunday, labelled the decision to leave France as “staggering” and added that “outside of an election this would potentially be a resignation matter”.

He added that Tory MPs are “struggling to comprehend what Sunak has done” and noted that “we still haven’t seen or heard anything from Sunak”.

However, some hours later, Sunak appeared on TV to apologise for the incident. 

He claimed that the “itinerary for these events were set weeks ago, before the General Election campaign”.

Sunak also said his attendance in France “was never in doubt” following reports that his team considered skipping the Normandy entirely.

“I am very happy to admit when I have made a mistake, that is what you will always get from me,” added Sunak. 

Meanwhile, Craig Oliver, who was David Cameron’s No 10 communications chief, said Sunak stood accused of “not getting what it is to be Prime Minister”.

“I think if you’re planning these things, you’ve got to say ‘look, that’s going to block the Prime Minister out’. It’s a very important moment for the country. But it’s also a very important moment to show that you’re being prime ministerial,” Oliver told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“And the problem for Rishi Sunak this morning is he’s accused of not getting what it is to be a Prime Minister and what his duties are as a Prime Minister.”

Sunak sat down with ITV yesterday 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.

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

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

Meanwhile, the BBC has apologised for an “inappropriate comment” that was captured during one of its programmes commemorating the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings.

The comment was heard during ‘D-Day 80: Tribute To The Fallen’, which aired on 5 June.

During the broadcast, the studio crossed over to live pictures of a military band.

But before the cameras cut away from the studio, a voice could be heard off-camera that appeared to say “French arseholes”. 

A spokesman for the BBC said: “We sincerely apologise for an inappropriate comment that was captured during live coverage of the D-Day 80 event in Bayeux.”

-With additional reporting from Press Association

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