Rishi Sunak visits village fete on home soil after D-Day events criticism

The Prime Minister met volunteers in a walled garden and received a warm welcome on home soil as he continued election campaigning following criticism of his early return from D-Day events.

On Saturday, Rishi Sunak visited the gardens at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland.

He also met people at a village fete in Great Ayton, a North Yorkshire village in his Richmond constituency where the reception for the Prime Minister was on the whole warm.

Mr Sunak’s campaigning visits came as he faces criticism for leaving D-Day commemorative events in Normandy ahead of a ceremony involving international political leaders.

General Election campaign 2024
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak uses a watering can during a visit to a Big Help Out project in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, while on the General Election campaign trail (Peter Byrne/PA)

The Prime Minister’s first visit in the walled-off surroundings of Auckland Castle gardens saw him meet volunteers Margaret Lambert and Hilary Bellwood, who encouraged him to apply for an allotment garden.

He also watered plants with Jane MacBean, Conservative candidate for Bishop Auckland.

Members of the public could be seen gathered on a hillside above the garden to try to catch a glimpse of the Prime Minister.

When he arrived in Great Ayton, he was welcomed by applause from some who appeared to be local Conservative members.

But a consultant who identified herself as only Chloe to the PA news agency asked the Prime Minister about the NHS backlog as he arrived.

The doctor, who said she rejoined Labour ahead of the election, said she “wanted to know what his plan is for waiting lists” and claimed the Government had left the NHS “completely unprepared” for the pandemic.

As he toured the tents and stalls on the village green, Mr Sunak met stall holders and chatted with members of the public.

At one point, children shouted “we love you Rishi” and filmed the Prime Minister as he visited a table fronted by gift bags which read “Wine or Surprise”.

General Election campaign 2024
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak played ‘Splat the Rat’ at a village fete in Great Ayton, Yorkshire (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Sunak also played a game called “splat the rat” in which a toy rat was dropped down a plastic pipe and he had to hit it with a baton as it fell out of the bottom.

The Prime Minister did not appear to hit the rat during the several rounds he played.

Tom Wilson, Labour’s candidate for the reorganised Richmond and Northallerton constituency that Mr Sunak is seeking to hold, was also at the village event and at one point could be seen following the Prime Minister’s party at a distance.

At the last election, Mr Sunak had a majority of more than 27,000 over his nearest rival, the then-Labour candidate Thomas Kirkwood.