Rishi Sunak pleads with voters to ‘find it in their hearts’ to forgive him for D-Day blunder as he faces tough TV grilling (and audience laughter) over immigration, taxes and the state of the NHS

Rishi Sunak tonight pleaded for voters’ forgiveness over his D-Day gaffe as he faced a brutal live TV election grilling.

The Prime Minister faced tough questions over the state of the economy, immigration and the state of the NHS from an audience in Grimsby. 

But it was his decision to leave France early on June 6 to film an election interview that came back to haunt him as much as anything.

He was grilled on it by host Beth Rigby, replying: ‘I was incredibly sad to have caused people hurt and upset, that was the last thing that I wanted to do. I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.’   

But it was a later attack from a former local Tory party chairwoman in the audience that hit hardest. 

Amy Green, from Leeds, said that recent decisions by Mr Sunak and his government had left her ‘ashamed’. She said she was a ‘true blue’ but was now an undecided voter because of the debacle and other issues including Downing Street parties during lockdown.

But he also faced a torrid time on tax and the cost of living, with one man asking why the Tories had ‘spoiled the hopes and dreams’ of young people unable to afford mortgages.

 Answering questions about the five pledges he made in January 2023, Mr Sunak said: ‘The most important priority was the first one, because when I got this job, inflation was at 11 per cent and I think everyone knows the last few years have been difficult, the impact that was having on all your bills.’

He faced laughter when he said: ‘It (inflation) was always meant to come down over time.’

The Prime Minister faced tough questions over the state of the economy, immigration and the state of the NHS from an audience in Grimsby.

But it was his decision to leave France early on June 6 to film an election interview that came back to haunt him as much as anything. He was grilled on it by host Beth Rigby, replying: 'I was incredibly sad to have caused people hurt and upset, that was the last thing that I wanted to do. I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.'

But it was his decision to leave France early on June 6 to film an election interview that came back to haunt him as much as anything. He was grilled on it by host Beth Rigby, replying: ‘I was incredibly sad to have caused people hurt and upset, that was the last thing that I wanted to do. I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.’

Mr Sunak said he believes the country has ‘turned a corner’, despite new figures today showing the economy flatlining.

‘We’ve got a clear plan for the future to make a difference to people – to cut their taxes, bring down immigration, to protect pensions,’ he said.

He added he will continue to ‘keep fighting hard until the last day of this election’. 

Mr Sunak also faced questions about rising NHS waiting lists, up to 7.54 million from the 7.21 million level when he made the pledge.

‘We’ve not made as much progress on cutting waiting lists as I would have liked,’ the Prime Minister said.

‘That was something that I was keen to do, and it has proved more difficult for a number of reasons, obviously recovering from a pandemic is not easy,’ he said.

He faced groans and boos when he said: ‘I think everyone knows the impact the industrial action has had, that’s why we haven’t made as much (progress).’

Asked how many people will be deported to Rwanda under the removal scheme, Rishi Sunak told Sky News: ‘We have already started detaining people, airfields on standby, planes are booked, the date for the first flight is out on July 24, I think it is.

‘We haven’t given more details beyond that to not compromise the operational security, but there will be a regular rhythm of flights, not just one.’

Mr Sunak was told net migration over the last three years is more than double compared to the three-year period before the 2016 EU referendum.

He told Sky News: ‘It’s too high. I have been very clear that it’s too high and I’m sure people feel frustrated and angry about it.’

Mr Sunak, asked why anyone should believe what he says on immigration, replied: ‘I can completely understand people’s cynicism about this.’

He added: ‘Since I have been in charge, numbers down 10% and visas issued this year down by a quarter. I’ve had this job for 18 months, numbers were down last year, they’re down considerably at the start of this year and they will keep coming down because of the measures I’ve already announced.’

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk