‘Panicking’ Rishi Sunak in final weekend of campaigning to save his own seat

‘Panicking’ Rishi Sunak in final weekend of campaigning to save his own seat

Rishi Sunak’s Labour opponent in his Richmond and Northallerton seat in Yorkshire has accused him of “panicking” as the prime minister campaigned to save his own seat in the last weekend before polling day.

Tom Wilson, the 29-year-old NHS worker and musician who spoke to The Independent last weekend, has questioned why the prime minister’s team apparently tried to arrange a hustings in the seat with farmers was cancelled.

Mr Sunak, who was campaigning in the North East yesterday to be close to his seat for the weekend, is potentially facing the prospect of being the first prime minister to lose his constituency in an election in British history.

Some recent polls have suggested the result in the rural seat, which covers part of the Yorkshire Dales but recently elected a Labour regional mayor, is “too close to call”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murty (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murty (PA Wire)

On the battle bus yesterday, Mr Sunak dodged a question from The Independent about whether he will campaign in his own constituency this weekend – and whether he can guarantee he will win his seat.

The prime minister said he didn’t “take anything for granted” and he would fight hard for every vote.

But by Friday evening he was at The Bank pub in the village of Stokesley in his constituency to officially open a new decking area and meet local voters. Today he has been campaigning in Richmond and was at the army barracks at Catterick for Armed Forces Day.

But there has been confusion over a hustings that Mr Wilson claims the prime minister’s team asked the Country Land and Business Association to arrange in Richmond, the main town in his constituency, that was due to take place yesterday.

Mr Wilson tweeted: “On Thursday, while I was preparing for the BBC Radio York hustings, which the prime minister was once again absent from, I was contacted again to say the hustings had been called off. Instead the PM spent his, at least, seventh day of the campaign in the constituency.”

Mr Wilson told The Independent that the prime minister is “panicking”.

He added: “The prime minister is truly rattled, and scrambling to save his own seat here in Richmond and Northallerton. More rural voters than ever are putting their trust in Labour to deliver real change.”

Jonathan Roberts from the CLA said that Mr Sunak, as had been alleged by his opponents, did not pull out of the husting.

He said: “I took the view that there were too many candidates in that seat to contact, and so it would have been too difficult to organise at a time when - in any case - many of our members would be too busy on the farm to attend.”

The Independent has asked the Conservatives for a response.