10 June 2024

Sunak vows to carry on until last day of campaign amid rumours he may quit

10 June 2024

Rishi Sunak has vowed to carry on “until the last day of this campaign” as he sought to draw a line under the fallout over his early departure from D-Day commemorations in Normandy.

The Prime Minister said he will not stop “fighting for the future of our country” when asked about rumours that he might quit ahead of the General Election on July 4.

Criticism of his early exit from the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings dogged Mr Sunak over the weekend, when he kept a low profile after avoiding questions from reporters on Saturday.

He is back in action campaigning in West Sussex at the start of this week, and a high-profile BBC interview with Nick Robinson is set to be broadcast on Monday evening.

The reality is I’m not going to stop going, I’m not going to stop fighting for people’s votes, I’m not going to stop fighting for the future of our country

Senior Conservatives were forced to quash claims over the weekend that the Prime Minister could quit before polling day amid the criticism.

“People are gonna say what they’re gonna say,” Mr Sunak told reporters on the campaign trail when asked about the rumours.

“I am very confident in the actions that we’re putting forward for the British people.

“I’m confident they will deliver a more secure future for people. There are lots of people who want to write me off, write this off, say this campaign or the election is a foregone conclusion.

“They’ve been saying that, by the way, ever since I’ve got this job, right? Not since this election campaign.”

Mr Sunak added: “The reality is I’m not going to stop going, I’m not going to stop fighting for people’s votes, I’m not going to stop fighting for the future of our country.”

The Prime Minister also struck a renewed conciliatory tone over his D-Day departure, telling reporters he “absolutely didn’t mean to cause anyone any hurt or upset”.

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

Chris Philp, a Home Office minister and Sunak ally, earlier conceded that he was “surprised and disappointed” by the Prime Minister’s early D-Day exit.

But he insisted the Prime Minister will be back “bouncing around the campaign trail this week” and will be “talking to journalists whenever they want to ask him some questions”.

The Tories have sought to direct attention towards new political horizons, setting out a plan to recruit 8,000 more police officers.

The £810 million annual cost of the policy would be funded by increasing visa fees and removing the student discount on the immigration health surcharge.

It comes as the Liberal Democrats launch their full election manifesto, with an offer of a £9.4 billion package for the NHS and social care in England.

The party says this would be paid for by increasing taxes for banks and closing loopholes used by the super-rich.

The plan would include a right to see a GP within seven days, improving access to NHS dental care, and wider availability of mental health services.

The manifesto will also set out plans to overhaul the water industry and tackle sewage pollution, a key theme of the Lib Dem campaign.

Speaking ahead of the manifesto launch, Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Our manifesto is a manifesto to save the NHS and social care.

“We want to boost GP numbers, we want to improve cancer survival rates, we want to end the access crisis in terms of people trying to reach their NHS dentists, we want to improve waiting lists for cancer treatment and mental health as well. And we have a bold plan to do that.”

The Conservatives, the Green Party and Labour are also expected to set out their manifestos this week.

Labour’s key policy pledge on Monday is to convert more than 3,300 primary school classrooms in England into nurseries, creating 100,000 childcare places.

The party also plans to provide free breakfast clubs in England’s primary schools, with the aim of saving parents more than £400 a year, and lowering absence rates.

But the party’s messaging has been overshadowed by an attempt to correct Emily Thornberry’s suggestion that adding VAT to private school fees could lead to larger class sizes in the state sector.

The shadow attorney general claimed on Sunday “it would be fine if we have to, in the short term, have larger classes”.

On Monday, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson slapped down this claim, and said it “just wasn’t right”.

Reform UK will set out plans for the economy, with Nigel Farage expected to say tens of billions of pounds could be saved by stopping the Bank of England paying interest to commercial lenders on their quantitative easing reserves.

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