• Thursday, July 18, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Sunak ‘incredibly angry’ over election date betting scandal

“I was incredibly angry to learn of these allegations. It’s a really serious matter. It’s right that they’re being investigated properly,” Sunak said in a televised debate.

At a rally, Sunak said that Reform ‘just won’t win enough seats to oppose Labour’. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Rishi Sunak expressed his anger over allegations that three party colleagues placed bets on an early announcement of the general election.

On a turbulent day for the Conservatives, the party’s campaign director took a leave of absence due to an investigation into bets on the election timing before it was officially announced.

“I was incredibly angry to learn of these allegations. It’s a really serious matter. It’s right that they’re being investigated properly,” Sunak said in a televised debate. “I want to be crystal clear that if anyone has broken the rules, they should face the full force of the law.”

Polls suggest Britain may elect a centre-left Labour government led by Keir Starmer, ending 14 years of Conservative rule. Some polls indicate Sunak’s party might face a historic defeat.

Allegations that a second Conservative candidate is under investigation by Britain’s gambling regulator for possibly profiting from inside knowledge of the election timing is another setback for Sunak’s efforts to remain in office.

The BBC reported the candidate is Laura Saunders, running for Bristol North West, and said her husband, campaign director Tony Lee, is also under investigation.

The Conservative Party announced its director of campaigning took a leave of absence on Wednesday.

Sunak said that anyone found breaking the rules should face the “full consequences of the law” and be “booted out” of the party.

Neither Lee nor Saunders was available for comment, and the gambling regulator did not name those being investigated. Placing bets with insider knowledge is a crime.

Another candidate has already apologised for betting on the election timing on July 4 before it was announced.

‘Very tough’

British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday it would be “very tough” for the Conservatives to win the election, as polls predict a landslide for Labour.

Asked at a Times newspaper event if the Conservatives could win, Hunt replied: “It’s going to be very tough. I don’t think any of us would pretend that is the most likely outcome. We can certainly do a lot better than the polls are suggesting and we are working very hard to do so.”

According to a YouGov poll, Starmer is set to become prime minister with a 200-seat parliamentary majority, the largest for any party in a century. Another poll indicated Sunak might be the first British prime minister to lose his seat in a national election, with Hunt’s seat also at risk.

The Conservatives were already trailing in polls when Sunak called the election, hoping economic improvements would narrow the gap with Labour. However, this has not happened, compounded by a problematic campaign start, including Sunak’s rain-soaked election announcement and early departure from D-Day commemorations in France, which drew criticism.

(Reuters)

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