Rishi Sunak leaving D-Day early worse than Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted woman’ gaffe, says Ruth Davidson | Politics News

The backlash to Rishi Sunak’s decision to leave D-Day commemorations early is worse than when Gordon Brown called Gillian Duffy a “bigoted woman”, Ruth Davidson has said.

The prime minister apologised for skipping part of the event on Thursday for a TV interview and on Monday said he hoped people would “find it in their hearts” to forgive him.

Speaking on the Electoral Dysfunction podcast with Sky News political editor Beth Rigby, the former leader of the Scottish Tories said claims Mr Sunak’s gaffe is “the defining mistake of the campaign” are “far too kind”.

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“This is worse than Michael Foot wearing a donkey jacket to the Cenotaph, this is worse than Gordon Brown [saying] ‘it’s that bigoted woman’,” she said.

“Because one of the things that Conservatives are supposed to stand for – beyond policy, beyond personalities – this is about values.”

Ms Davidson then said: “You could not think of a worse thing for a Conservative prime minister to do.”

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It comes ahead of The Battle for Number 10 – a Sky News Leaders Special Event, which will be live on Sky News on Wednesday at 7.30pm from Grimsby – an area set to play a key role in the election.

Beth Rigby will scrutinise the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties on their commitments to the country during 20-minute in-depth interviews.

The audience will then put their questions to Mr Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer in 25-minute slots, which Ms Davidson said the prime minister will have to navigate carefully.

Broadcaster and former Labour Party adviser Baroness Ayesha Hazarika believes “Rishi Sunak’s going to feel quite defensive” going into the event, “particularly because of the D-Day fiasco”.

“I think Rishi Sunak tonally is a bit more uncomfortable with people,” she added, remembering when Mr Sunak asked a homeless person if he works in business.

How Rishi Sunak tries to relate to people could be key. Pic: PA

“A big part of this is going to be able to pivot, to try and answer questions from the audience, but also try and connect with them and show some empathy and some emotional intelligence.”

Rigby, meanwhile, analysed the obstacles facing Sir Keir.

“Part of the problem about being the leader of the opposition is when you are the prime minister, you get a lot of attention and can dominate the airwaves and set the agenda,” she said

“When you’re the leader of the opposition… you have to fight for attention.”

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Part of Sir Keir’s battle in this campaign is to try to “make people understand him more”, she added.

“We joke about the toolmaker thing, but only 11% of the population know that his dad was a toolmaker,” she said.

“What they might see is Sir Keir Starmer and think he’s an aristocrat.”

Email the team [email protected], post on X to @BethRigby, or send a WhatsApp voice note on 07934 200 444.


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