6 Ways Rishi Sunak's Election Campaign Came Undone Over The Bank Holiday

Support for the Conservative campaign seems to be falling away on all sides.
PM Rishi Sunak has not had the best start to his election campaign.
PM Rishi Sunak has not had the best start to his election campaign.
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak called a general election less than a week ago and yet he has already faced an onslaught of PR disasters.

The prime minister caught everyone – including some members of his own party – by surprise when he announced that the public would be heading to the ballot box on July 4.

He bizarrely decided to make the announcement while standing in the pouring rain without an umbrella, sparking a flurry of memes.

The following day, he embarked on a trip to the most famous shipwreck of history, the Titanic, where journalists naturally asked if he was captain of a sinking ship himself.

So, did the campaign go any more smoothly over the bank holiday weekend?

No, is the short answer...

1. Michael Gove stands down

Within hours of Sunak announcing the general election, a wave of Tory MPs said they had no plans to stand again.

Then, kicking the bank holiday weekend off with a bang on Friday evening, the Conservative heavyweight Michael Gove announced he was joining the exodus.

To make matters worse, Gove is currently housing, communities and levelling up secretary in Sunak’s cabinet.

There are now more Conservative MPs leaving parliament at the next election than in 1997, ahead of New Labour’s landslide victory.

2. Flagship policy flop

Sunak’s plan to roll out national (military or civilian) service to 18-year-olds has been criticised from all angles already.

The prime minister has given no details about how it would run, and there are concerns about the way parents could be sanctioned if they did not force their children to take part.

The prime minster even posted his first TikTok video to try and promote the scheme, only for the comments to be full of complaints about the country and calls to vote for Labour.

3. Telford MP backs Reform

Lucy Allan, the MP for Telford since 2015, endorsed Reform UK’s candidate to replace her at the next election when she steps down.

The trouble is, Allan is – or rather, was – a Conservative MP.

She was promptly kicked out of the Conservative party after her public endorsement, although she later insisted she had already quit the party before being suspended.

4. Leaked Tory memo reveals internal splits

A memo, accidentally sent out to all MPs and leaked to The Times, has revealed that Conservative bosses named and shamed their own MPs who they believe are not getting behind the party’s campaign.

The memo accused veterans minister Johnny Mercer and Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker of “not co-operating with CCHQ” while also claiming nature minister Rebecca Pow is spending too much time on ministerial jobs.

It also suggested there were “funding issues” with some constituencies.

5. Company backed by Sunak’s wife supports Labour

Koru Kids, a firm backed by Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty and hosted at a Downing Street reception, is now backing the opposition.

The CEO Rachel Carrell told The Independent that she would be voting for Labour because the Conservatives are “not serious people”.

Carrell said she was looking forward to “living in a country with competent leadership”, having lurched from “crisis to crisis, embarrassment to embarrassment” under the Tories.

6. Sunak tries football

The prime minister has been brutally mocked on social media for his attempts at football while out campaigning in Chesham and Amersham – a seat the Tories lost to the Lib Dems in 2021.

The sporting gaffe came days after the prime minister tried to connect with voters in Wales over the Euros, even though the Welsh team has not qualified for the international tournament this year.

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