Rishi Sunak sparks outrage as PM snubs D-Day ceremony attended by global leaders to do ITV interview

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has sparked outrage today after the desperate Tory snubbed an important ceremony to remember the fallen of D-Day - to carry out a pre-recorded TV chat.

Under-fire Sunak - who is predicted to be facing one of the biggest election disasters in Tory history - has been blasted by military veterans and bigwigs for leaving British veterans behind to sit down with ITV. The PM flew back from Normandy to do the interview, according to the Mirror, skipping a major ceremony and returning from D-Day anniversary commemorations.

The desperate PM's campaign to be re-elected is flagging, and Labour has urged him to "tell the truth" about whether he swerved the poignant commemorations to "prove he's not a liar" and revive his bid with some TV PR.

Paul Brand of ITV confirmed Mr Sunak had returned from Normandy to do an interview with the channel in the late afternoon or early evening on Thursday - after he returned to the UK from D-Day anniversary commemorations. Mr Brand said ITV was interviewing all the party leaders and had been working to secure a date with Mr Sunak for some time. "Today was the slot they offered us," he said. "We don't know why."

The full interview was intended to be broadcast next Wednesday as part of a special episode of current affairs programme Tonight. But a clip from the interview, where Mr Sunak lashes out at claims he lied about Labour's tax plans, was published on Twitter on Thursday night.

Mr Sunak attended Franco-British commemorations at Ver-sur-Mer in Normandy on Thursday attended by King Charles and Queen Camilla, and French President Emmanuel Macron. Appearing alongside his wife Akshata Murthy, Mr Sunak told veterans: "We owe you everything." But he did not attend the high-profile ceremony at Omaha beach, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, to head back to the UK, where the General Election campaign is in full swing.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer joined world leaders, including Mr Macron and US President Joe Biden at the event alongside Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Foreign Secretary David Cameron, whom Mr Sunak sent in his place. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky also attended, and was pictured deep in conversation with Mr Starmer. World leaders later released a statement condemning the violence in Gaza.

A Labour source said: “Rishi Sunak should tell the truth: did he skip the D Day commemorations this afternoon to try and convince people he’s not a liar?” No10 and Tory bosses declined to comment.

Earlier, a Tory source played down the impact of the PM's absence, saying he will see Mr Macron, Mr Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and other top leaders at the G7 summit in Italy next week. But his absence drew anger from senior former military figures.

Col Richard Kemp, a former British Army commander in Afghanistan, told the Mirror: “I know there is a General Election campaign to fight but this is a very significant anniversary of a major military achievement which led to freedom in Europe. It’s being attended by some of the veterans who may never attend another due to their age. I think it was very important that he showed his commitment to it.

"He should have stayed. As the PM of our country he should have been there to represent the country and to show our gratitude to those who fell.”

Former British Army officer Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon also criticised the decision. He said: "It's a great disappointment. What could be more important than respecting the people who gave their lives for this country?"

Mr Starmer said the national commemorative event in Normandy had been "moving and powerful", adding: "My message to the veterans is 'thank you'."

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