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By Becky MortonPolitical reporter

Rishi Sunak says he hasn’t considered resigning as prime minister

Rishi Sunak has said he hopes “people can find it in their hearts to forgive me”, after he was criticised for leaving D-Day commemorations early.

The prime minister apologised on Friday for not attending the full event to mark the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings the previous day.

In his first interview since then, Mr Sunak said he “absolutely didn’t mean to cause anyone any hurt or upset” and pointed to his actions in government to support the armed forces and veterans.

Opposition parties had accused the PM of a “dereliction of duty”, while Conservative cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt said the decision to leave early was “completely wrong” and Mr Sunak had “rightly apologised”.

Speaking on a campaign visit in West Sussex, Mr Sunak said: “I absolutely didn’t mean to cause anyone any hurt or upset, and that’s why I apologised unreservedly for the mistake that I made.

“And I just hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me and look at my actions that I’ve taken as prime minister, both to support our armed forces with an increase in defence spending, but also have the minister focused on veterans affairs around the cabinet table, making sure this is best country in the world to be a veteran.”

Last week Reform UK leader Nigel Farage claimed Mr Sunak had demonstrated he did not understand “our culture” by leaving the event early and was “disconnected by class [and] by privilege” from ordinary people.

Asked what he made of Mr Farage’s remarks, the PM said: “I can’t speak for him and what he meant by those comments.

“I’m not going to get involved in that because I don’t think it’s good for our politics, or indeed our country.”

Conservative minister Mel Stride said Mr Farage’s comment made him “very uncomfortable”, while Labour’s Shabana Mahmood called it a “dog whistle”.

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Mr Sunak denied he had considered resigning before polling day amid criticism of the Conservative campaign.

“The reality is I’m not going to stop going, I’m not going to stop fighting for people’s votes, I’m not going to stop fighting for the future of our country,” he said.

In response Liberal Democrat local government spokeswoman Helen Morgan said: “This is rock bottom for Rishi Sunak. A Conservative leader having to rule out resigning before election day shows that the wheels have completely come off the Conservative campaign.”

The D-Day commemorations on Thursday included a British event at Ver sur Mer, which was attended by the prime minister and King Charles.

However, Mr Sunak left before an international commemoration on Omaha Beach attended by world leaders including US President Joe Biden, with Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron deputising for him.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer stayed at the event until the end.

Following a backlash, Mr Sunak apologised on Friday, saying that “on reflection” it was a mistake not to attend the whole event.

He added that his itinerary for D-Day had been set “weeks ago” and he had also attended other events with veterans, including in Portsmouth.



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