Sunak hopes public can ‘find it in their hearts’ to forgive D-Day blunder

Rishi Sunak has said he hopes the public can find it in their hearts to forgive him following his early D-Day departure.

The Prime Minister struck a renewed conciliatory tone as he seeks to move on from the backlash caused by his early exit from the events to mark the 80th anniversary of the landings in Normandy last Thursday.

Mr Sunak attended events in both Portsmouth and Normandy to mark the decisive Second World War military operation, but left France ahead of a ceremony involving international political leaders.

It emerged that he then attended an interview with ITV on his return, as he sought to counter criticisms about his claim that Labour’s election policies would cost families some £2,000 in tax.

In his place, Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron attended alongside US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Volodymyr Zelensky, president of war-torn Ukraine.

After a subdued weekend of campaigning following backlash over the decision, Mr Sunak told reporters on Monday: “When it comes to the D-Day events, I spoke about that a lot last week.

“I absolutely didn’t mean to cause anyone any hurt or upset, and that’s why I apologised unreservedly for the mistake that I made.”

He added: “And I just hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me and look at my actions that I’ve taken as Prime Minister, both to support our armed forces with an increase in defence spending, but also have the minister focused on veterans affairs around the Cabinet table, making sure this is best country in the world to be a veteran.”

On Friday, Mr Sunak’s political opponents criticised his early exit from D-Day, while his rival for the premiership Sir Keir Starmer stayed on in Normandy.

The Prime Minister’s decision also drew the ire of 98-year-old Normandy veteran Ken Hay, who suggested the move “lets the country down”.

Mr Sunak’s campaigning media appearances were subdued following a broadcast pool interview on Friday in which he was asked to explain why he made the choice to return early.

He kept a low profile over the weekend, avoiding questions from reporters on Saturday.