British PM Apologizes For Leaving D-Day Commemorations Early

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John Oyewale Contributor
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United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologized Friday for his early departure from the previous day’s D-Day commemoration ceremonies in northern France.

“After the conclusion of the British event in Normandy, I returned back to the UK. On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer – and I apologise,” Sunak posted to Twitter.

Sunak attended events in Portsmouth, England, marking the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy as well as a British D-Day event in France, according to his statement.

The PM drew backlash after skipping the international D-Day event Omaha Beach so he could return to the campaign trail ahead of the July 4 general election, BBC reported. Foreign Secretary David Cameron (himself a former prime minister) filled in for Sunak at the Omaha Beach event. Sunak’s absence, however, was conspicuous at an event many other world leaders — including U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — attended in person. (RELATED: Try Not To Cry Watching Young Service Member Honor WWII Veterans)

His political opponents quickly piled on. Opposition leader Keir Starmer, whose Labour Party is trouncing Sunak’s Conservatives in the polls, reportedly stayed for the entire ceremony. “Rishi Sunak will have to answer for his own actions. For me, there was nowhere else I was going to be,” Starmer said, according to BBC. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey called Sunak’s departure “a dereliction of duty.”

Reform Party leader Nigel Farage wrote that “Sunak could not even be bothered to attend the international event above Omaha Beach” and asked, “Who really believes in our people, him or me?”

The 90-year-old daughter of a British D-Day veteran said Sunak’s early exit left her “disgusted” and “in tears” and that she would not vote for him again, BBC reported.

“He opted to put an election before the thousands who were killed,” British World War II veteran Jack Hemmings, 102, told BBC.

Conservative Party adviser Ian Acheson resigned from his role, slamming Sunak’s blunder as “colossal” and “unforgivable” in an interview with the Times Radio.

At a campaign stop in Swindon, West London, Sunak reportedly admitted that leaving Normandy was “a mistake” but said he would “always be proud of our record in supporting veterans here in the U.K.”