Express & Star

Sunak bouncing around campaign trail this week, ally says after subdued weekend

Chris Philp conceded he was personally ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the Prime Minister’s decision to leave Thursday’s D-Day events early.

General Election campaign 2024

Rishi Sunak will be “bouncing around the campaign trail this week”, a minister has insisted as the Tories attempt to draw a line under the row over his early D-Day exit.

Chris Philp conceded he was personally “surprised and disappointed” by the Prime Minister’s decision to leave Thursday’s commemorative events for the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings early.

Criticism of the move has dogged Mr Sunak over the weekend, when he kept a low profile after avoiding questions from reporters on Saturday.

The Prime Minister is back in action campaigning in West Sussex at the start of this week, after senior Tories quashed rumours he could quit mid-election.

A high-profile BBC interview with Nick Robinson is meanwhile set to be broadcast on Monday evening.

Home Office minister Mr Philp was asked how he personally felt about Mr Sunak’s early D-Day departure, and told Sky News: “Well, I was surprised and disappointed.

“But he apologised, and I think if you look at his track record looking after veterans and funding the armed services, he has got a good track record, a track record that he can be proud of, a track record the party can be proud of, and a track record the country can be proud of.”

He also suggested the Prime Minister “regrets deeply” what happened after being asked about his subdued campaigning over the weekend.

“He has recognised that, he has apologised and I think we will see him bouncing around the campaign trail this week and I am sure he will be talking to journalists whenever they want to ask him some questions,” Mr Philp added.

The Tories have sought to direct attention towards new political horizons this week, setting out a plan to recruit 8,000 more police officers.

The £810 million annual cost of the policy would be funded by hiking visa fees and removing the student discount on the immigration health surcharge.

General Election campaign 2024
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper arrives to take part in the BBC Election Debate (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

It comes as the Liberal Democrats launch their full election manifesto, with an offer of a £9.4 billion package for the NHS and social care in England.

The party says this would be paid for by hiking taxes for banks and closing loopholes used by the super-rich.

The plan would include a right to see a GP within seven days, improving access to NHS dental care and wider availability of mental health services.

The manifesto will also set out plans to overhaul the water industry and tackle sewage pollution, a key theme of the Lib Dem campaign.

Speaking ahead of the manifesto launch, Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Our manifesto is a manifesto to save the NHS and social care.

“We want to boost GP numbers, we want to improve cancer survival rates, we want to end the access crisis in terms of people trying to reach their NHS dentists, we want to improve waiting lists for cancer treatment and mental health as well. And we have a bold plan to do that.”

The Conservatives, the Green Party and Labour are also expected to set out their manifestos this week.

Labour’s key policy pledge on Monday is to convert more than 3,300 primary school classrooms in England into nurseries, creating 100,000 childcare places.

It also plans to provide free breakfast clubs in England’s primary schools, with the aim of saving parents more than £400 a year and lowering absence rates.

Fabian Society conference
Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry during their speech to the Fabian Society conference (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)

But the party’s messaging has been overshadowed by an attempt to correct Emily Thornberry’s suggestion that adding VAT to private school fees could lead to larger class sizes in the state sector.

The shadow attorney general claimed on Sunday “it would be fine if we have to, in the short term, have larger classes”.

On Monday, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson slapped down this claim, and said it “just wasn’t right”.

Reform UK will set out plans for the economy, with Nigel Farage expected to say tens of billions could be saved by stopping the Bank of England paying interest to commercial lenders on their quantitative easing reserves.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.