Sunak's early return from D-Day events 'unforgivable' - Sarwar

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar told BBC Scotland News that the prime minister's decision to travel home prematurely was "shameful" [PA Media]

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has described the prime minister's early return from D-Day commemorations as "unforgivable".

Rishi Sunak has faced intense criticism for leaving Thursday's 80th anniversary event in France to return to the UK.

During the BBC's seven-way TV election debate, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt said it was "completely wrong".

And on Saturday the Scottish Conservatives' chairman Craig Hoy agreed the prime minister had made a mistake.

SNP leader John Swinney also repeated his condemnation of the move, which Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton previously said could "define or even end an entire career".

Mr Sunak missed a ceremony on Omaha Beach and was represented by Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

Lord Cameron was photographed at the event alongside US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Mr Sarwar, who was campaigning on the Isle of Lewis on Saturday, was asked about the ongoing fall out.

He told BBC Scotland News: "Completely unacceptable. Completely unforgivable. Shameful.

"And it is Rishi Sunak who will have to answer for his actions."

First Minister John Swinney, who attended the commemorations in Portsmouth and Normandy, said Mr Sunak had been "rendered useless".

And he suggested voters would punish the Conservative Party on 4 July.

Speaking in Livingston, West Lothian, he said: "I think Rishi Sunak's credibility is completely destroyed by his departure from D-Day early and the insult he delivered to the veterans who had travelled to Normandy for that solemn occasion.

"It also, frankly, was a desertion of the international responsibilities of the Prime Minister."

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said Mr Sunak should have remained at the commemoration event rather then travelling to London for an ITV interview.

But he dismissed calls for the prime minister to resign.

He told BBC Scotland News: "I don't think he needs to consider his position but I think he should read into the criticism, that people are obviously concerned about what he did.

"That's why he apologised and I think he was right to apologise."

The prime minister apologised on Friday but urged people not to politicise the event.

Mr Sunak said he cared deeply about veterans and was honoured to attend services in Portsmouth and France.

He added: "After the conclusion of the British event in Normandy, I returned back to the UK.

"On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer - and I apologise."

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton predicted the prime minister's actions would have far-reaching consequences.

Writing on X he said: "During elections there are moments in time that don’t just punctuate the campaign, but can define or even end an entire career.

"Rishi Sunak’s abandonment of the D-Day commemorations and the veterans we honour on the beaches of Normandy feels like one such moment."