British PM Rishi Sunak apologizes after leaving D-Day commemorations early

British PM Rishi Sunak apologizes after leaving D-Day commemorations early

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a public apology Friday morning after facing backlash over his decision to leave D-Day anniversary commemorations in France early.

“After the conclusion of the British event in Normandy, I returned back to the UK. On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer – and I apologize,” Sunak wrote in a post on the social platform X.

“This anniversary should be about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The last thing I want is for the commemorations to be overshadowed by politics.”

With the United Kingdom’s July 4 general election less than a month away, the conservative prime minister reportedly returned to the U.K. Thursday to record an election interview with ITV’s “Tonight” program.

Sunak sought to push back on these claims as well as allegations that he planned to skip the anniversary entirely, telling Sky News that the itinerary for D-Day anniversary events was “set weeks ago before the general election campaign.”

Throughout his apology, the incumbent took the opportunity to emphasize his commitment to the armed forces, citing a host of government initiatives his Cabinet has helped establish as well as his attendance at several D-Day events in Portsmouth and France.

“I will always be proud of our record of supporting veterans here in the U.K.,” Sunak told reporters.

“I had the privilege of speaking with many veterans and their families to express my personal gratitude to them for their service to our country,” he continued.

The British prime minister joined a host of international leaders, including President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the invasion that helped turn the tide of World War II.

While Sunak attended a Thursday memorial event at Ver-sur-Mer in northern France as well as an earlier ceremony at the British memorial in Normandy alongside King Charles III and surviving World War II veterans, his premature departure has been met with sharp criticism, dealing a blow to his already struggling campaign.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who is vying to oust Sunak from office, told Sky News that the prime minister “will have to answer for his choice,” noting that he himself attended all of Thursday’s anniversary events, including a notable international ceremony on Omaha Beach.

Meanwhile, Sir Ed Davey, who leads Britain’s Liberal Democrats Party, described Sunak’s return to the campaign trail as “a dereliction of duty,” going as far to say that the prime minister abandoned those who served during the historic mission on the beaches of Normandy.

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