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10 June 2024

PM: Engaging with Farage comments ‘not good for our politics or our country’

10 June 2024

Rishi Sunak appeared to criticise Nigel Farage’s claim that he does not understand “our culture”, suggesting it would not be “good for our politics or indeed our country” to engage with the remarks.

The Reform UK leader has drawn condemnation after saying the British-Asian Prime Minister does not “care” about UK history in an attack over his decision to leave D-Day commemoration events early last week.

Shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood branded the comments “dog whistle” politics, while Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said they made him “very uncomfortable”.

Asked for his response to the remarks during a huddle with journalists at a garden centre in Horsham on Monday, Mr Sunak said: “You can ask him, I can’t speak for him and what he meant by those comments.

“I’m not going to get involved in that because I don’t think it’s good for our politics or indeed our country.”

The embattled Prime Minister renewed his apology for leaving events marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy after the fallout over the move persisted over the weekend.

He said he “absolutely didn’t mean to cause anyone any hurt and upset” as he returned to the General Election fray with a campaign visit to a Neighbourhood Watch group in West Sussex on Monday.

Criticism of his early exit from the ceremony in France to give a TV interview had dogged Mr Sunak over the weekend, when he kept a low profile and avoided questions from reporters.

“ I apologise unreservedly for the mistake that I made 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 and increase in defence spending but also have a minister focused on veterans’ affairs around the Cabinet table making sure this is the best country in the world to be a veteran,” Mr Sunak said.

It comes after former home secretary Suella Braverman, who has increasingly been a thorn in the Prime Minister’s side since she was sacked last year, suggested there was not much difference between the Tories and Reform.

The party headed by Mr Farage poses a threat to the Conservatives’ right flank in the polls, and the former minister had said in an interview with The Times that “we need to… find some way to work together”.

Asked whether the two parties had similar values, Mr Sunak said on Monday: “I’m not really interested in Reform, quite frankly, I’m interested in delivering for the British people with the agenda that I’m setting out.

“And I’m very clear about what I stand for, and the action that we’re prepared to take to deliver a more secure future for everybody.”

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