Sunak hopes 'veterans can forgive me' after leaving D-Day commemorations early

The Conservatives were trying to move past the prime minister's D-Day debacle on Monday while Labour wanted to speak about education reform

Rishi Sunak has said he hopes "veterans and others can find it in their hearts to forgive me" as the fallout over his early departure from D-Day commemorations in Normandy looms large over his campaign.

Criticism of his early exit from the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings dogged Mr Sunak over the weekend when he kept a low profile after avoiding questions from reporters on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters he said he hoped people could accept his apology and raised his record on supporting the UK's armed forces.

He said: "I didn't intend to cause anyone any hurt or offence which is why I apologised unreservedly for the mistake that I made."

He repeated his apology during a BBC Panorama interview on Monday evening, but refused to be drawn on Reform UK leader Nigel Farage's comments that Mr Sunak does not understand "our culture".

Mr Sunak said it wasn't "good for our politics or indeed our country" to engage with the remarks.

The prime minister says he hopes "veterans and others can find it in their hearts to forgive me"

The fallout from the debacle led to some speculation Mr Sunak may drop out of the race as his party continued to lag so far behind in the polls.

When asked he said if he was thinking about quitting he said he will not stop "fighting for the future of our country."

Senior Conservatives were forced to quash claims over the weekend that the prime minister could quit before polling day amid the criticism.

"People are gonna say what they’re gonna say," Mr Sunak told reporters on the campaign trail when asked about the rumours.

"I am very confident in the actions that we’re putting forward for the British people.

Rishi Sunak said he would carry on campaigning until polling day

"I’m confident they will deliver a more secure future for people. There are lots of people who want to write me off, write this off, say this campaign or the election is a foregone conclusion.

"They’ve been saying that, by the way, ever since I’ve got this job, right? Not since this election campaign"

Mr Sunak added: "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."

Chris Philp, a Home Office minister and Sunak ally, earlier conceded he was "surprised and disappointed" by the Prime Minister’s early D-Day exit.

But he insisted Mr Sunak will be back "bouncing around the campaign trail this week" and will be "talking to journalists whenever they want to ask him some questions."

The Tories have started this week by trying to direct attention to their latest policy announcement, a new plan to recruit more than 8,000 police officers.

The £810 million annual cost of the policy would be funded by increasing visa fees and removing the student discount on the immigration health surcharge.

When asked by the BBC's Nick Robinson if the Conservative party had found the "magic money tree", the prime minister said each of his party pledges have been "fully costed".

Despite pledges to uprate public services, Mr Sunak said that his party will continue to cut taxes. During the interview Sunak conceded that it had become harder to buy a home under the Conservatives.

Mr Sunak's opponents have been making the most of the D-Day debacle, with the Liberal Democrats saying the PM had hit "rock bottom" by being forced to dismiss resignation rumours.

The party’s 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."

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