Farage’s milkshake and Sunak’s D-Day calamity: Key moments from election campaign trail – week three

Farage’s milkshake and Sunak’s D-Day calamity: Key moments from election campaign trail – week three

It’s been another barnstorming week on the campaign trail as the political parties jostle for your vote at the general election on July 4.

The Independent has pinpointed these key moments week:

Sunak’s D-Day calamity

The prime minister made easily the largest gaffe of the campaign so far by ducking out early from the D-Day commemoration events in Normandy, France, on Thursday. His baffling decision not to stand alongside other world leaders on a world stage prompted fury, with at least one Normandy veteran suggesting the prime minister had let his country down. Mr Sunak apologised for the error, but the damage was done.

Farage hit with milkshake

Another unwelcome development for Mr Sunak was Nigel Farage’s U-turn decision to stand for election in Clacton-on-Sea. Speaking to hundreds of supporters at a rally on Tuesday, Mr Farage said he would be a “bloody nuisance” in Westminster. He has his sights set on leading Reform past the Tories on the right of UK politics. The day’s campaigning ended on a sour note for Mr Farage as, not for the first time, he was doused in milkshake.

Sunak was offered deal to stop Farage

It was revealed exclusively by The Independent that in recent months a deal was in the works between Rishi Sunak and Nigel Farage’s parties to clear the way for the Conservatives at the election. Tory Brexiteer MP Andrea Jenkyns and former Leave.EU communications director Andy Wigmore tried to broker the deal, but sources told us that Mr Sunak was ultimately dissuaded by his advisers.

Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Sunak and Starmer clash in first TV debate

Mr Sunak and Sir Keir took part in their first pre-election debate on Wednesday and traded blows on the economy and the NHS. The prime minister sought to draw dividing lines with Labour as he claimed the party would “raid” pension pots and hike taxes. Meanwhile, Sir Keir referenced the timing of the July 4 vote, arguing that Mr Sunak had called a summer election because he “knows” inflation and energy prices will take a turn for the worse in winter.

PM’s £2,000 tax ‘lie’

In the political leaders’ first TV clash Mr Sunak repeatedly made the claim that Labour’s policies “amount to a £2,000 tax rise for everyone”, saying they had been costed by “independent Treasury officials”. While Sir Keir was slow to rebut the claim during an allotted 45-second slot, the following days saw the Treasury disowning the number, the calculations being roundly criticised and mocked, and even Mr Sunak admitting that he meant £2,000 over four years. Sir Keir said the prime minister’s “made-up” claim had given an “insight into his character” and suggested he had broken the Ministerial Code by lying.

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer went head to head in a TV debate on Wednesday (Jonathan Hordle/ITV) (PA Media)
Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer went head to head in a TV debate on Wednesday (Jonathan Hordle/ITV) (PA Media)

Shaheen accuses Labour of ‘hierarchy of racism’

Faiza Shaheen, a left-wing former Labour candidate, sensationally quit the party and said she would stand as an independent in Chingford and Woodford Green. Ms Shaheen accused Labour of operating a “hierarchy of racism” when she was dropped as a candidate after liking a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter, that allegedly downplayed antisemitism allegations.

Extra 100,000 families face ‘mortgage nightmare’

On Monday we reported that an extra 100,000 families will be stung by a mortgage hike between now and polling day. More than 3,300 households a day will see their payments rise significantly before 4 July, and the average homeowner will have to fork out £240 a month more, or nearly £3,000 a year, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

Tory chairman put on a shortlist of one

Mr Sunak faced further embarrassment this week after it emerged that Conservative Party chiefs were forced to put Richard Holden on a shortlist of one to make sure he had a seat to fight at the election. The move caused anger locally, with Andrew Baggott, the Conservative opposition leader on Basildon Borough Council, saying it was “morally wrong” for him to be chosen. Mr Holden was confirmed as the candidate for Basildon and Billericay.