UK Prime Minister in Hot Water Over His D-Day Gaffe

News & Politics

Joe Biden proved himself once again to be an embarrassment this week, this time at the D-Day commemorations in Normandy, France, on Thursday. I’ll let you read our coverage of Biden’s bad day in France for the details.

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Biden’s gaffes come at a time when one would think that he would be trying to put his best foot forward. With a tight election looming, the strategy from Team Biden ought to be to eliminate any gaffes.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is in a similar situation, albeit a more desperate one than the president. Sunak has an election coming up in less than a month, and so far the polls show a bloodbath in store for his Conservative Party. Between an insurgent Reform Party, which is more conservative than the Conservatives, and a resurgent left-wing Labour Party, Sunak can’t afford any missteps.

Sunak has found himself mired in a different sort of D-Day controversy than Biden, but it could have more devastating consequences than sitting down awkwardly and making weird speeches. Sunak left the D-Day commemorations early and flew back to the UK for an interview with television network ITV. This wasn’t a live interview; it was a taped piece to air another day.

Former PM and current foreign secretary David Cameron appeared at the ceremony in Sunak’s place alongside Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Needless to say, Sunak is catching all sorts of fire for his decision.

Recommended: Is a True Conservative Movement Rising in the UK?

“Failing to attend a major commemoration of one of the most important events in recent history, during which 1,500 British service personnel were killed, is staggeringly disrespectful,” wrote Eliot Wilson at The Spectator. In another piece at The Spectator, Katy Balls referred to Sunak’s decision as “a turning point in the campaign, a campaign that has already been hard going for the Tories.”

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Sunak’s main rival, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, took the opportunity to blast the PM, saying, “I made a choice yesterday about what I would do as the leader of the Labour Party, as a candidate for PM. And I knew I had to be there. I mean, it was not a discussion… [Sunak] is going to have to answer for his choices. He’s the prime minister of the United Kingdom.”

“I was honoured to help raise £100,000 for the Taxi Charity to send veterans back to Normandy. It was a pleasure to meet them at the various events,” Reform UK’s Nigel Farage posted on X. “Rishi Sunak could not even be bothered to attend the international event above Omaha Beach. Who really believes in our people, him or me?”

Farage blasted the PM even further in a video:

Sunak issued an apology:

The gaffe came on the same day that the Tories announced new policies aimed at helping veterans, which adds cognitive dissonance to the issue. Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer attempted a defense of Sunak, saying on one political show that “people are going to try and turn this into a big political moment.”

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“I’ve spoken to the Prime Minister this morning and obviously it’s disappointing, but I do find the faux outrage from people who’ve done nothing but make my life difficult trying to improve veterans’ affairs over the years is pretty nauseating,” Mercer said, adding that Sunak’s mistake “should be borne in the context of what we’ve actually done for veterans.”

Is it too late for Sunak to turn things around? Facing opposition from the left and the right, he may well drag his party down to defeat in July’s election.

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