Election campaigns paused as leaders come together to mark D-Day anniversary

Election campaigns are being largely put on pause as the Prime Minister and Labour leader come together to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day at the British Normandy memorial.

They will be joined in Ver-sur-Mer, France, by the King and Queen, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and British veterans.

But back in the UK, the fallout from the leaders’ head-to-head on Tuesday continues, with the Conservative Party accusing the Labour leader of “throwing stones from a house made from the thinnest of glass”.

D-Day 80th anniversary
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the UK’s national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Wednesday (Leon Neal/PA)

This comes after Sir Keir Starmer branded Rishi Sunak a liar and claimed he had broken the ministerial code for suggesting Labour planned to hike taxes by more than £2,000.

The Prime Minister repeatedly highlighted the allegation during the combative debate with Sir Keir, claiming “independent Treasury officials” have costed Labour’s policies “and they amount to a £2,000 tax rise for everyone”.

It has since emerged that senior officials had told ministers not to say civil servants were behind Tory claims that Sir Keir was planning tax hikes if elected.

The Treasury’s permanent secretary, James Bowler, said ministers had been told not to suggest civil servants produced the figure at the heart of the Tory attack.

Sir Keir said the Prime Minister’s actions had given an “insight into his character”.

Commemorations are set to begin at 7.25am, which is the exact moment the invasion began in 1944, with a military piper landing on the beach of Arromanches-les-Bains in a Royal Marines landing craft.

Mr Sunak is expected to deliver a short speech and lead a “heroes’ welcome” at the event, with performances from a range of musical artists including Sir Tom Jones to follow.

Sir Keir said it is a “privilege” to stand with surviving D-Day veterans in Normandy, as he commemorated their courage.

He added: “Our debt to them can never be repaid in full. But we can – and must – honour their sacrifice. This goes beyond party politics. This is about who we are as a nation. This is our story, our history, our identity – and our future together.

“The story of D-Day is a story not only of individual courage, but of collective strength. Of commitment to our Western allies in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. It is a story that resonates just as strongly today, in this new age of insecurity, as it ever has.

D-Day 80th anniversary
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer attended the UK’s national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Wednesday (Kin Cheung/PA)

“Like so many families, I have relatives who fought in the Second World War who I will be remembering this week. It is an honour to attend commemorations in Portsmouth and in France on behalf of the Labour Party. And to personally thank members of that generation who delivered us out of the shadow of war, into a brighter future for Britain.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey is setting out his plans for veterans, as he calls for a fair deal for those serving in the Armed Forces and their families.

The party has proposed to set up a new government commission to secure a cross-party consensus on improving conditions for serving personnel and veterans.

Sir Ed said: “Today millions of people across the country will be reflecting on the sacrifices made to free Europe from tyranny 80 years ago. We must ensure everyone who has stood in defence of our nation is rewarded and properly supported.

D-Day 80th anniversary
The Prince of Wales, King and Queen were in Portsmouth on Wednesday (Kin Cheung/PA)

“The Liberal Democrats are calling for a fair deal for our veterans and military personnel. We want to see improvements to military housing and compensation, and a new commission to ensure that our servicemen and women and veterans are no longer taken for granted.”

On Wednesday, both the Prime Minister and Sir Keir attended the UK’s national commemoration event in Portsmouth alongside members of the royal family and armed forces veterans.

The King and Queen appeared overcome with emotion, as Charles paid tribute to the “courage, resilience and solidarity” of veterans.