Rishi Sunak hides from reporters after D-Day disgrace – updates

Rishi Sunak is hiding from reporters as he continues to face a backlash over his D-Day snub.

The PM’s decision to leave 80th anniversary commemorations in Normandy early has become one of the defining moments of the campaign. But Mr Sunak is expected to avoid TV cameras as he campaigns in Yorkshire today. On Saturday, he did not do any interviews and ignored shouted questions from reporters.

All the main parties are preparing to unveil their manifestos in the next few days – and Labour are expected to include a new crackdown on violence against shop workers.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour would take action to end the tide of aggression on frontline staff – and pledged to end the police practice of ignoring shoplifting reports for thefts of under £200.

Follow the latest on the General Election below

Tories deny they’ve run out of cash for social media ads

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has denied claims the party has suspended social media campaignig as the party does not have funds for it.

Appearing on Sky News, Mr Stride said: “Not that I’m aware of. That’s news to me.”

The Conservative Party is usually flush with cash, but some donors are believed to be reluctant to hand over money because the campaign is going so badly.

Rishi Sunak ‘dodges’ reporters after D-Day shame

Rishi Sunak has been accused of dodging questions in the wake of his D-Day shame. The Prime Minister was forced to apologise for leaving 80th anniversary commemorations in Normandy early.

Mr Sunak is campaigning in Yorkshire without media today, after refusing to speak to any journalists yesterday following his D-Day snub.

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “If Rishi Sunak is going to come out with yet another desperate wishlist of manifesto proposals this weekend, the least he can do is face up to proper public scrutiny over how he plans to pay for them, what the impact on people’s finances will be, and when he intends to deliver on the first set of pledges he made to the British people eighteen months ago.

“But instead, he has [been] ducking the cameras and dodging all those legitimate questions; just another farcical episode in this calamitous Conservative campaign.”

Labour manifesto to include crackdown on violence against shop workers

Labour’s manifesto will pledge laws to crack down on violence against shop staff, says Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

Ms Cooper said the party would take action to end the tide of aggression – and vowed to stop police ignoring thefts valued at under £200.

Speaking to staff at a Co-op store, Ms Cooper heard harrowing tales of staff threatened with hammers and knives, and being sprayed with petrol.

Labour manifesto to include crackdown on violence against shop workers

(Paul David Drabble)

Johnny Mercer denies rule breaking over campaign letters sent to neighbouring seats

Tory minister Johnny Mercer has denied breaking Commons rules by sending campaign material to constituents of neighbouring MPs.

The Veterans’ minister sent letters, on Commons headed notepaper, to people living in parts of Plymouth that will come under his current seat after boundaries are re-drawn for July’s General Elections. But Mr Mercer won’t be the MP there by the time their homes are part of the constituency – he’ll be a candidate seeking re-election.

Polls suggest Mr Mercer is facing the boot at July’s election – with just an 8% chance of holding on to the seat, according to Electoral Calculus.

Johnny Mercer has just an 8% chance of keeping his seat (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK took £120k of Covid cash – while saying ‘scrap furlough’

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK took more than £120,000 worth of furlough cash during the pandemic – despite arguing for the scheme to be shut down, The Mirror can reveal.

Mr Farage described the government’s response to Covid-19 as “woeful”, claiming lockdowns “would result in more life-years lost than it hopes to save.” But by the time the former Brexit Party was relaunched as Reform UK in November 2020, it had already claimed £67,372 in Coronovirus job retention funding from the Treasury.

In March 2021, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, now Reform UK’s Chairman, argued the scheme should be shuttered early. He told Talk Radio: “That scheme basically costs around 10bn a month, that’s an absolutely staggering amount of money. And to have that going on until September, when basically everyone’s going to be vaccinated by June, just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Farage’s Reform party took Covid cash despite arguing for furlough to be scrapped (AFP via Getty Images)

Tory filmed serving ‘fun flour’ to guest on David Cameron photo campaigns with Conservative chair

The Tory chair has been out election campaigning with a Conservative rising star filmed offering “fun flour” to a party guest on a signed David Cameron photo.

Richard Holden canvassed with Philip Stephenson-Oliver just months after our revelations led to the latter’s suspension. But he appears to have been welcomed back into the fold by the Tories as he was snapped with Holden and a minister on the campaign trail.

A grinning Holden posed alongside a group including Tory minister Felicity Buchan and Stephenson-Oliver – who he referred to as one of “the lads”. Holden has been at the centre of controversy this week after bagging a last-minute selection as the Tory candidate in a safe seat in Essex, sparking anger in the local party.

Tory chair Richard Holden (left) campaigning with Philip Stephenson-Oliver (second right) (@RicHolden/Twitter)

Two thirds of voters disagree with Sunak’s early D-Day departure, poll reveals

Seven in 10 – or 68% – of the UK public say it is “unacceptable” that Rishi Sunak left D-Day commemorations early, according to a Savanta poll for The Telegraph.
That includes 61% of 2019 Conservative voters, the pollsters said. Chris Hopkins, Savanta’s political research director, said: “Rishi Sunak’s actions this week may well go down as the greatest act of electoral self-harm in modern UK political history.

“Our snap poll suggests that his decision to leave D-Day commemorations early are roundly deemed unacceptable by the majority of the electorate, including 61% of 2019 Conservatives. Whether they vote Conservative again remains to be seen. Because so much of the Conservatives’ electoral strategy was pinned on older, Reform UK-curious supporters, Sunak is uniquely vulnerable to upsetting this group of voters. How this will impact voting intention polls is genuinely unknown, because this situation is unprecedented.”

The Prime Minister is facing a reckoning over his decision to leave the D-Day commemorations early (Sky News)

PM slammed for ‘dodging’ media questioning

Labour has criticised Rishi Sunak for “ducking the cameras and dodging” media questions on the campaign trail on Saturday.
Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth said: “If Rishi Sunak is going to come out with yet another desperate wish list of manifesto proposals this weekend, the least he can do is face up to proper public scrutiny over how he plans to pay for them, what the impact on people’s finances will be, and when he intends to deliver on the first set of pledges he made to the British people 18 months ago.
“But instead, he has spent the day ducking the cameras and dodging all those legitimate questions – just another farcical episode in this calamitous Conservative campaign. It’s time to turn the page on this chaos, and vote for change with Labour on 4 July.”

Rishi Sunak shakes hands with a boy at a campaign event in Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, on Saturday (Getty Images)

Tory candidate in Margaret Thatcher’s old seat belittled groping allegation against Boris Johnson

A Tory election candidate in Margaret Thatcher’s old seat once belittled a groping allegation against Boris Johnson, The Mirror can reveal.

In reference to the claim, Alex Deane said he was quoting the late Conservative diarist Alan Clark’s remark: “how do I know my advances are unwanted until I’ve made them?” It came after a female journalist accused the then PM Johnson of groping her leg under the table 20 years earlier.

Charlotte Edwardes claimed Johnson, then Spectator magazine editor, grabbed “enough inner flesh beneath his fingers” to make her “sit suddenly upright” at a 1999 lunch. But Deane, standing for the Tories in Finchley and Golders Green in London at the election, played down the allegation – denied by Number 10 – after it emerged in 2019.

In a Sky News discussion with broadcaster Ayesha Hazarika about the allegation in 2019, he said: “…You’re talking about it as if it’s true.” Hazarika replied: “I think it is true, I believe her. I believe the victim here, I do believe the victim.”

Tory candidate Alex Deane with Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Claire Coutinho (@ajcdeane/Twitter)

Reform candidate saves Gavin Williamson’s skin by quitting General Election race

A Reform UK candidate has saved ex-Minister Gavin Williamson’s skin by quitting the election race at the last minute and joining the Tories.

The former Defence Secretary denied accusations of “dirty tricks” after the last-minute defection. Party leader Nigel Farage repeatedly pledged not to stand any candidates down to help the Tories. In messages seen by the Mirror, Tom Wellings, Reform’s candidate in Stone, Great Wryly and Penkridge, Staffordshire, told supporters “I understand many of you were looking forward to having a Reform UK candidate… However after careful consideration and extensive analysis of recent local polling data I have made the decision to withdraw my candidacy.”

Mr Wellings said he was concerned his candidacy risked splitting the vote in the seat, handing victory to Labour.

Tory MP Gavin Williamson (PA)

Count Binface to stand in Rishi Sunak’s seat

Count Binface has announced he will stand against Rishi Sunak in Richmond and Northallerton, in North Yorkshire.

In his announcement video, shared on X, formerly Twitter, the self-described intergalactic warrior said: “You can see why someone from Southampton might want to hole up here. But I have a word on the wise that the people here are looking for an MP who can put them on the map.

“An MP who can give the folk of Richmond, London, something to think about. Because this is the real Richmond.”

Count Binface previously stood against ex-Prime Minister Boris HJOhnson in Uxbridge and South Ruislip in the 2019 General Election.

Sunak dodges press questions after D-Day debacle

The Prime Minister visited a walled garden at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, on Saturday’s campaign trail.

An opportunity for the media to ask questions of Rishi Sunak did not take place as was originally planned, likely following the fallout on Friday of his early return from D-Day commemorations in Normandy.

At the garden, Mr Sunak spoke with volunteers Margaret Lambert and Hilary Bellwood, who encouraged him to apply for an allotment garden.

He also watered plants with Jane MacBean, Conservative candidate for Bishop Auckland.

Members of the public could be seen gathered at a hillside above the garden to try and catch a glimpse of the Prime Minister within.

BBC debate audience member hailed ‘real winner’ for savage Farage reaction

Amid several bad-tempered answers from the likes of Nigel Farage and Penny Mordaunt, the camera kept cutting back to one man in the audience who was following the action with a right old scowl on his face.

Viewers were delighted the camera team found someone who summed up the events of the evening so succinctly, especially when Farage claimed this year’s general election should be “the immigration election.”

TV reviewer Scott Bryan tweeted a clip of the camera cutting away from Reform UK leader Nigel Farage to the man in the white t-shirt. “The man shaking his head is a meme,” he declared.

Read more: BBC debate audience member hailed ‘real winner’ for savage reaction to Farage

Sunak’s D-Day event snub was “letdown for our whole country,” says Lib Dems’ Davey

Sir Ed Davey has said Rishi Sunak’s snub of a major international D-Day event was “a letdown for our whole country”.

On a campaign visit to Victoria Park in Newbury, Berkshire, the Liberal Democrats leader told broadcasters: “I’ve felt pretty cross about this. I’ve talked to veterans and they feel quite angry. So, I think they need to do more.”

He urged the Conservatives to give some of the cash donated to the party by Frank Hester, a businessman who was embroiled in a racism row, to charity.

“I think the Conservative Party should give £5 million of that donation to a veterans charity. I think if they did that, then people might be able to draw the line.

“But it’s such a letdown for our whole country and our history, particularly for our brave veterans.”

Labour manifesto will promise to close fox hunting loopholes

Labour will vow to speed up the end of animal testing and close loopholes in the existing fox hunting ban in its manifesto.

The party will put forward a comprehensive plan to tackle animal cruelty that will also stop the import of hunting trophies from abroad.

Singer and campaigner Will Young tonight gave his backing to the party as it prepared to unveil the “biggest boost in animal welfare for a generation”.

Labour will promise to ban the importation of designer dogs and cats with fashion-based mutilations, as well as banning the sale of animals with cropped ears. The importation of heavily pregnant dogs and cats will be banned.

Read more: Labour manifesto will promise to phase out animal testing and close fix hunting loopholes

Tory minister tells PM Sunak ‘it’s over’

One of Rishi Sunak’s own ministers has warned “it’s over” the PM’s election campaign lies in tatters after he shamefully skipped a D-Day event.

The PM was forced to apologise for flying home early from Normandy to record a TV interview, admitting it had been “a mistake.” Conservatives have now turned on one another over the extraordinary snub to veterans.

There have even been warnings Sunak would have been immediately ousted as party leader if it had not been the middle of the General Election campaign. One minister told The Mirror: “Don’t even ask. The wheels have come off. It’s over.”

Read more: Tory minister tells Rishi Sunak ‘it’s over’ as D-Day snub ends election hopes

Tories forced to continue defending Rishi Sunak’s D-Day event debacle

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he agreed with Rishi Sunak that it was a mistake to leave D-Day events early.

Asked whether he agreed with fellow Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt’s assessment that it was “completely wrong”, Mr Harper told BBC Breakfast on Saturday: “I don’t know what the detail was of putting the Prime Minister’s schedule together, which, as he said, was done some time ago before the election campaign was called.

“But look, it was a mistake. People make mistakes. The Prime Minister has made a mistake. He’s apologised for it. And he’s apologised to those that would have been particularly hurt by it.”

Mr Harper also said: “I agree with the words that he set out in his remarks yesterday when he was interviewed about it.”

Dame Kelly Holmes blasts Sunak for ‘disrespecting’ D-Day heroes

Military veteran Dame Kelly Holmes slammed Rishi Sunak for “disrespecting” D-Day heroes after he left the 80th anniversary commemorations in normandy early.

The Olympian, who is Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Training Corps, said following the PM’s latest blunder: “We need change now.”

National treassure Dame Kelly, became the first British woman to win double gold at the Olympics 20 years ago, also slammed Sunak’s National Service plan and accused him of “vilifying” marginalised communities like trans people for political gain.

She said: “What I hate is all the bullsh*t that comes out of the Conservatives mouths about what they’re going to do now if they get in at the next election, but why didn’t they do them all this time while they’ve been in power? Veterans have been suffering for years with homelessness, housing, mental health issues and now all of a sudden their care and support for them is important and in the agenda because of the D-Day celebrations, why wasn’t it a priority over the past 14 years?”

Read more: Dame Kelly Holmes blasts Rishi Sunak for ‘disrespecting’ D-Day heroes by skipping event

Dame Kelly Holmes hit out at Runak over his decision to ditch a D-Day event (Jonathan Buckmaster)

Closing statements: Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth

Iorwerth called for a different type of politics in his closing statement.

He said the General Election was an opportunity to send a message to Labour, namely – stop taking Wales for granted.

Closing statements: SNP’s Stephen Flynn

Flynn echoed other party leaders, branding the Tories as “finished.”

He claimed the SNP would focus on the NHS and rejoin the single market as well as deliver on net zero commitments.

Closing statements: Green Party’s Carla Denyer

According to Denyer, the Tories are “toast” before she pitched the Green Party as an alternative to Labour.

She argued that the Green Party was close to winning seats across the UK.

Rayner ‘the clear winner’ – but Mordaunt sticking the boot in was memorable

Speaking in the spin room after the debate, a Labour spokesperson said: “Angela did very well, she was the clear winner out of it.

“I think the most memorable thing for people will be was how Penny just totally just totally put the boot into Sunak over the D-Day stuff. She basically agreed when Angela said ‘you’ve put taxes up to the highest level in 70 years. And she defended Liz Truss. So that’s quite a triple whammy from Penny in the debate tonight.”

The spokesperson agreed that, while Penny Mordaunt was hard on the PM, it still seemed unsatisfying.

“I’m surprised she didn’t get more heat over it,” he added.

Closing statements: Reform UK’s Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage argued there was not “much difference” between Labour and the Conservatives.

He said Labour would win the election, but that the opposition should be Reform UK and not the Tories. Farage then claimed his party would be a “political phenomenon.”

Closing statements: Lib Dems’ Daisy Cooper

The Lib Dem deputy said the UK was “crying out for change.”

She added every vote for the Lib Dems would translate to a fair deal that would deliver change in the UK.

Closing statements: Conservative’s Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt admitted UK voters have gone through tough times in the years since the Tories won the last election.

Her statement presented voters with a choice, between Labour and the Conservatives. She once again repeated disputed claims of a Labour tax hike and said the Conservatives would cut taxes and protect pensions.

Tory Minister: Penny held her own

Tory Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said the debate was tough, but that was a good thing: “We wanted to have these debates. We wanted to both be challenged and to challenge.

“I actually think Penny held her own very well in that space.

“We need to make points about the credibility of labour’s spending plans and the cost of them. We absolutely did that.”

On the issue of Rishi Sunak abandoning D-Day, he added: “I think the audience voted with their hands at the end of the first question.

“Penny gave exactly the right answer. The PM has apologised.

“But the audience wanted to move on to the significant items of the day. Listen to the tape back. Listen to the applause for other questions and other answers.”

I should say, I’ve listened back to it a couple of times now …and I have no idea what Chris Heaton-Harris was talking about.

Closing statements: Labour’s Angela Rayner

“After 14 years of chaos, it’s time for change,” Labour’s Angela Rayner said.

She said leader Keir Starmer had changed the Labour Party and vowed to drive down NHS waiting lists, boost the economy and control the country’s borders.

Finishing her pitch to voters, Rayner said: “If you want change, vote Labour.”

Rayner gets applause from audience for blasting Mordaunt for ‘backing Liz Truss’

Labour’s Angela Rayner received an applause from the BBC debate election audience as she told Penny Mordaunt: “You backed Liz Truss and crashed our economy.”

It came as the Tory Cabinet minister used the debate tonight to try to criticise Labour’s plans on the economy and the NHS. She said it was “really important” to keep a strong budget and economy.

But Rayner hit back, saying: “You’ve just said that we need a strong economy. You backed Liz Truss and crashed our economy. You made people like me redundant when we were in the homecare service.”

Read more: Angela Rayner gets applause from TV audience as she blasts Penny Mordaunt for ‘backing Liz Truss’

Rayner’s telling gesture of power as Mordaunt ‘lost her cool’

A body language expert said Angela Rayner stayed “cool and calm” while Tory Penny Mordaunt’s stress levels grew during tonight’s debate.

Body language expert Darren Stanton at OLBG told The Mirror Mordaunt let slip a telling gesture while being grilled about Rishi Sunak’s “unforgivable” decision to leave yesterday’s D-Day commemorations early.

Speaking exclusively to the Mirror, he said: “Straight out of the traps we had Penny Mordaunt pointing the finger quite aggressively towards Angela Rayner, which doesn’t look good optically. Obviously they were talking about defence – but we had Angela standing quite composed, cool and calm while Penny was on the offensive straight away.

Read more: Angela Rayner’s telling gesture of power as Penny Mordaunt ‘lost her cool’

Panellists trade blows over how to solve knife crime

Panellists have dueled over how to bring knife crime down in the UK.

Nigel Farage wants to stop and search in areas where knife crime is known to happen adding, police need to “do what needs to be done.”

The Lib Dems’ Cooper advocated for a “good old fashioned model of policing” where officers tackle knife crime by gathering intelligence from the ground up.