Tory campaign gaffe as video shows Union Jack flag flying upside down

Rishi Sunak has suffered his latest campaign gaffe after his party’s first election broadcast depicted the Union Jack flying upside down.

The prime minister’s video pointed to uncertain times fuelled by “pandemic, war in Europe and the Middle East, a reckless dictator in Russia… China”.

“We face unprecedented challenges here at home because of global insecurity, but by sticking with the plan Rishi Sunak is steadying the ship and making progress,” a deep-voiced narrator says over footage of the PM working.

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But, just minutes after the video was released, it was pointed out that perhaps the most striking part of the video is a shot of the UK’s flag upside down.

The Flag Institute, which researches and promotes the use and design of flags, says it is “most improper to fly the flag upside down”.

The Union Jack drew attention on social media (Conservative Party/X)
The Union Jack drew attention on social media (Conservative Party/X)

It is widely believed that flying the flag upside down is a form of distress signal, though when questioned on this on Sky News on Tuesday, home secretary and former Army officer James Cleverly insisted that was “complete nonsense”.

The gaffe came as a YouGov poll put the Conservatives on course for a historic defeat, with Labour to secure a larger landslide on 4 July than under Tony Blair in 1997.

The forecast predicted the Conservatives would lose 223 seats and be left with just 140. That would be the worst loss for the Tories in well over 100 years, since then-party leader Arthur Balfour lost 246 seats in 1906.

The prime minister’s campaign has been riddled with gaffes so far (PA Wire)
The prime minister’s campaign has been riddled with gaffes so far (PA Wire)

The upside-down flag is just the latest gaffe of the prime minister’s campaign, with his first week dominated by blunders.

During a visit to a brewery in Barry, South Wales, the PM asked Welsh workers if they were looking forward to this summer’s football, despite the national team not qualifying for the Euros.

The PM also faced a Q&A from staff at a distribution centre in Derbyshire before it turned out two of the supposed hi-vis clad staff were actually Tory councillors who did not work at the firm.

This article was amended on 6 June 2024. It had previously inaccurately stated that Arthur Balfour had been prime minister at the time of the 1906 general election, but he had resigned from the role prior to the election being called.