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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced an intense backlash over the weekend for his decision to skip a significant D-Day commemoration in France in favor of doing a political interview, a scandal that comes as the ruling Conservative party and its leader face an uphill battle in July’s parliamentary elections, the Financial Times reported.

On Monday, despite apologies, he said he wouldn’t consider resigning, the BBC reported. “I’m not going to stop fighting for people’s votes,” he said.

On Thursday, Sunak gave a speech at the British Normandy Memorial near the French village of Ver-sur-Mer in the morning as part of the 80th anniversary commemorations of Allied forces’ historic World War II invasion.

However, the prime minister departed before the afternoon event at Omaha Beach to participate in an election interview with ITV. That event was attended by world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

In Sunak’s absence, former Prime Minister and current Foreign Secretary David Cameron represented the UK.

But his decision sparked criticism and condemnation in the UK, including from members of Sunak’s own party, with some officials describing it as a “disastrous mistake” and “the stupidest of stupid ideas.”

In response, Sunak apologized for his departure, explaining that his itinerary had been set weeks in advance – before the start of the general election campaign – and that the decision not to attend the international event was planned back then.

The Independent also reported that he felt “despondent” over the furious backlash.

However, this explanation was met with skepticism from Conservative candidates, with some warning that the misstep comes at a critical time in the election cycle.

The prime minister is attempting to close a 20-point gap in opinion polls favoring the opposition Labour Party.

One senior party official suggested that Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party might soon surpass the Conservatives in polls. During a multi-party debate hosted by the BBC, Farage chided Sunak’s absence, saying that veterans felt let down, the Guardian added.

The incident and the subsequent backlash have also sparked discussions among Conservatives about potential post-election scenarios, including a possible return of Boris Johnson to counter Farage.

Amid the UK’s political turmoil, Biden and Macron celebrated their countries’ partnership during a state visit to the French capital, according to the Hill.

The leaders emphasized their united stance on global security issues, including preventing a regional escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict and supporting Ukraine’s fight against Russia amid ongoing funding challenges.

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