James Cleverly 'would have advised Rishi Sunak to stay' at D-Day event had he been there, he tells Andrew Marr

10 June 2024, 19:42 | Updated: 10 June 2024, 21:48

James Cleverly admits he would have advised Sunak differently on D-Day

By Danielle de Wolfe

James Cleverly has told LBC he ‘would have advised Rishi Sunak to stay’ at D-Day celebrations last week after he faced backlash for leaving early.

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Rishi Sunak came under fire last week after he left D-Day commemorations in France early to return to the UK for an interview.

He later apologised for the incident, as he said it was not his intention for D-Day commemorations "to be overshadowed by politics".

Mr Sunak skipped a gathering of world leaders on Omaha Beach as he returned back to the UK to give an interview defending comments he had made about Labour's tax plans.

Now the Home Secretary has told LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr that he would have advised the Prime Minister to stay at the celebrations had he been there.

Mr Cleverly said: “Look, if I had been there at the time, I probably would have advised him to stay. But the point is he recognised that that missing that final event with world leaders was the wrong thing to do.”

Pressed further on whether he would have outright told Mr Sunak 'Prime Minister don’t do this' if he had been there, Mr Cleverly replied: “Yes, but I wasn't. And we can't replay history. But what we can do is look at his record. We've got a Veterans Minister around the Cabinet table. We've done a huge amount for veterans in terms of housing and the cost of living.”

Read more: Labour refuses to rule out introducing VAT on private school fees mid-academic year

Read more: Carry on campaigning: Rishi Sunak vows to 'fight on' and says he won't quit despite polling - and D-Day fiasco

Rishi Sunak apologised 'unreservedly' for his mistake.
Rishi Sunak apologised 'unreservedly' for his mistake. Picture: Getty

It comes after the Prime Minister vowed earlier on Monday to carry on 'fighting' to win the election as he insisted the result is not a foregone conclusion.

On the campaign trail today, Mr Sunak said he was still fighting - despite polls consistently showing he is 20 points behind.

He said: “People are gonna say what they’re gonna say; what I’m doing is fighting very hard for every vote. I will keep doing that until the last day of this campaign.

"And I am very confident in the actions that we’re putting forward for the British people,” he said.

“There’s 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, since I’ve gotten this job. But the reality is, I’m not going to stop going. I’m not going to stop fighting for the future of our country. I believe in what we are doing.”

He also reiterated an apology for leaving D-Day anniversary events early.

He said: “I just hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”

“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.

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