Rishi Sunak’s early D-day departure is the latest disaster from a leader with no political judgement

It’s been a week of vintage Sunak.

For the briefest of times, Rishi Sunak was considered to be the future of the Conservative party.

A true golden boy, everything he did went well for him. He went to a posh school, the best universities and married a billionaire's daughter. Becoming incredibly wealthy himself as a banker, he then joined the Tory party and his success continued. He went from a backbench MP to a household name in an instant, all captured in HD by the comms team he’d hired for his true calling – Downing Street.

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Finally making it, despite a Liz Truss shaped wobble, it appeared everything was working out. He could not fail.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak perhaps counting how many good days he's had this week.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak perhaps counting how many good days he's had this week.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak perhaps counting how many good days he's had this week.

Then his premiership actually began and what followed has been nothing short of disaster, the Prime Minister not so much resuscitating the party fortunes as hammering in the final nail.

Whether it’s shaking hands on a bet to deport people, not knowing how to use contactless, asking a homeless person if they’re in business or enquiring with Welsh voters if they’re looking forward to a tournament they haven’t qualified for, Sunak hasn’t found a gaffe he’s not willing to avoid.

And yet, his early departure from the D-day anniversary event represents the worst of all of them, his very own Gillian Duffy moment. The only positive for the Prime Minister is the election was already lost.

Sunak is a Prime Minister who on the 80th anniversary of D-Day decided to cut short his attendance to do a television interview where he repeated his lie about Labour’s tax rises. Intending to put out one fire, something he’d been warned not to raise by the civil service, he has instead created another, much larger fire.

He was forced to spend Friday apologising and insisting the issue shouldn’t be politicised and we should focus on the veterans. This, of course, comes from a man who ignored a campaign pause for D-Day to leave veterans and come home for a political interview.

In short, having promised to force all young people to spend an entire year of their lives serving their country, the Prime Minister could not even hack an afternoon. They died, so that he may leave (early).

The decision has obviously annoyed voters, but also enraged his own MPs. More than one has said they’d have submitted a letter of no-confidence if it wasn’t for an election. Luckily for them, Sunak is probably going anyway.

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It’s also a disaster in his own seat, where according to the polling, Sunak has a five-point lead. With a resurgent Reform led by Nigel Farage now back in the picture, the Prime Minister holding his own seat is no longer a given.

What’s more, none of this has anything to do with the Labour party. People are not criticising Tory policies, or being charmed by Labour’s offer, there is just widespread mockery and shock at such a stupid decision.

In scenes you could not write, Sunak’s apology tour saw him visit a school on Friday literally located on a street called “Veteran’s Way”.

This won’t be why he lost the election, but it speaks to why he’s so far behind. This is a disastrous decision and one entirely on-brand for Sunak’s horrendous political instincts.



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