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Rishi Sunak leaves D-Day Memorial early to campaign

State of the Union: Pro-conscription Prime Minister has little time for veterans.
Sunak with soldiers on D-Day
Credit: Bastiaan Gareth Fuller - Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who recently advocated for a return to military conscription, has been criticized for leaving the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of D-Day early in order to be interviewed by ITV in the run-up to Britain’s July 4th General Election. 

Sunak left Foreign Minister David Cameron in Normandy to attend the rest of the commemorations with world leaders such as President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Biden of the United States, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the FRG.


Reactions to Sunak’s early departure from the event were uniformly negative. Jack Hemming, a 102-year-old veteran of the Second World War who served in the Royal Air Force, stated that Sunak had “opted to put an election before the thousands who were killed.” 

Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, attended all of the ceremonies in Normandy and called Sunak’s early departure a  “Gillian Duffy moment,” referencing a hot-mic incident during Gordon Brown’s premiership when the then-Prime Minister disparaged a woman for her concerns about immigration. 

Sunak has since apologized for leaving the D-Day commemorations early to take part in a political interview.

Sunak’s absence can be juxtaposed with the presence of King Charles III, himself a veteran, who served in active duty in both the RAF and Royal Navy. The King and the Queen both participated in the ceremonies and spent time with veterans of the D-Day landings, before returning to Portsmouth to speak with veterans.