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Rishi Sunak’s D-Day Dodging Shows he has Abandoned his National Service 

The Prime Minister, who wants to force young people to spend an entire year of their lives serving their country, wouldn’t even devote one afternoon to it himself

Spot the missing Prime Minister: David Cameron stands in for Rishi Sunak, who left the D-Day commemorations early in order to take part in a TV interview. Photo: Abaca Press / Alamy

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Rishi Sunak’s decision to leave yesterday’s D-Day commemorations early in order to take part in an ITV television interview is one of the most shocking moments in election campaign history.

His decision, which was reportedly a “compromise” with the French, after having initially refused to attend the event at all, comes just weeks after he announced plans to force millions of 18-year olds to spend a year of their lives taking part in national service.

Yet on the 80th anniversary of one of the most important events in our national and international history, the Prime Minister couldn’t even manage a whole afternoon of serving his country, before skipping off to serve his own interests instead.

After a barrage of criticism from military leaders, and senior Conservatives, Sunak was belatedly forced to issue an apology this morning, posting on X that his decision to leave early had been a “mistake”.

Yet with polls showing that Sunak’s party is already heading for its worst ever election result, this could well prove to be a moment that helps tip a Conservative landslide defeat into a complete wipeout.

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Dodging Service

That seemingly no-one around the Prime Minister appeared to spot the problem with him dodging part of the D-Day commemorations, tells us a lot about the quality of both his own judgement, and that of his aides.

The terrible optics of this decision should have been obvious to everyone involved. On the evening news bulletins, potential pictures of the Prime Minister representing the country alongside his French, German and US allies were instead replaced with an image of Biden, Macron And Schulz standing side-by-side with David Cameron instead.

Meanwhile images of Ukraine’s President Zelensky talking to Labour leader Keir Starmer, also made the front pages, alongside questions about Sunak’s non-appearance.

While most of the Conservative-supportive newspapers appear to have ignored the story, with even the BBC actively seeking to downplay it yesterday, the sheer wave of public outrage, plus Sunak’s belated apology this morning, means it is now leading the corporation’s news bulletins.

That the Prime Minister got himself into this position is remarkable. To have made such a decision at the same time as running a campaign which is targeted specifically at older and more conservative voters, is truly baffling and only gives further credence to those in his own party who complain that he is simply “terrible at politics”.


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Tonight the BBC will host a seven-way debate between the party leaders. Luckily for Sunak, he is due to be represented by Penny Mordaunt, while Starmer is being represented by Angela Rayner. 

However, with the Nigel Farage likely to make big play of this story during the debate, amid polls showing the Reform party is now just two points behind the Conservatives, this is one decision that is likely to stay with the Prime Minister, long after he is finally forced to leave Downing Street.

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