Sunak abandoning D-Day events early was a ‘breathtakingly terrible decision’ – Swinney

Scotland’s First Minister has branded the Prime Minister’s decision to call off D-Day commemorations in Normandy early as a “breathtakingly terrible decision”.

Rishi Sunak attended an earlier event in France on Thursday but returned to the UK ahead of a gathering of world leaders including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron on Omaha Beach.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron was in France with Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Mr Sunak apologized on Friday morning, but the attacks by his political opposition continued.

Speaking at a campaign event in Glasgow on Friday, Mr Swinney said it was a “stupid decision to pull back on D-Day commemorations”.

“I think it’s a truly, breathtakingly terrible decision in many respects,” he said.

“One, the Prime Minister leaving as he did is disrespectful to veterans.

“Secondly, there was a large gathering of international leaders, including the president of the United States, the president of Germany, the president of France, the president of Ukraine, various international leaders, where I would have thought the prime minister would have liked to see.”

Mr Sunak is still Prime Minister despite the ongoing general election campaign and he said he should be there to “represent the UK’s international interests”.

In a speech, Mr Swinney said he had not campaigned in the previous 48 hours to focus on his duties as First Minister to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

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The decision, he continued, “says everything we need to know” about the prime minister’s judgment.

In his apology on Friday, Mr Sunak said: “The 80th anniversary of D-Day is a profound moment to honor the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our values, our freedoms and our democracy.

“This year should be about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. My last wish is for the commemoration to be overshadowed by politics.

“I care deeply about veterans and have been honored to represent England at a number of events in Portsmouth and France over the last two days and meet those who have fought bravely.

“After the British event in Normandy, I returned to England. On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay longer in France – I apologize.

Speaking to broadcasters later on Friday, the prime minister reiterated his apology but insisted on not politicizing the issue.

“However, considering the enormity of the sacrifice, I think we should not politicize this. We should focus on the soldiers who have helped so much,” he said.

“I had the honor and privilege to speak with many of them and their families, hear their stories, and express my gratitude to them personally.

“But I’m always one to admit when I’m wrong, and that’s what you’ll always get from me.”

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