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He shall slight them on the beaches… Sunak’s faux pas is a free pass for Cameron

Your weekly dose of gossip from the campaign trail.

By Kevin Maguire

Success has many parents and failure is an orphan, yet recollections may vary after Lord Dave let it be known he was incandescent and suggested forcefully that Rishi Sunak, not he, must be pictured with Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz. My snout on the Tory front line whispered limelight-lover David Cameron did indeed softly enquire whether the PM should be on D-Day full parade, but the Foreign Secretary relished the opportunity to step into his size fives.

Reconciled to Conservative defeat, an ambitious Cameron recognises the value of rubbing shoulders with world leaders. A global top job is the next goal in a personal redemption journey from Brexit loser to international statesman. Outgoing Dutch premier Mark Rutte appears to have secured Nato, but you never know, and sharp-elbowed Lord Dave is networking for fresh opportunities.

Trouble and strife in the household of one-time Westminster golden couple James Forsyth and Allegra Stratton. Forsyth is the PM’s political secretary under fire for his D-Day flight. Stratton was Sunak’s Treasury spin doctor before switching to Boris Johnson’s No 10, which she quit over film of her laughing during partygate cover-up rehearsals. Stratton collects a pay cheque from Bloomberg, where my snout heard her mumble, during an event at their London HQ, that she would’ve hoped to spot the D-Day tank trap. If only hapless hubby had asked his sagacious wife.

Grim humour from a dispirited Tory worried a five-figure majority could vanish. Wannabe re-elected MPs, he wailed, call it Sunak’s law: anything that can go wrong will go wrong and everything that should go right will go wrong.

Over in Labourland, a few at the head of a lucky opposition worry an unexpected and unexploded bomb detonating could ruin the party but, apart from the Diane Abbott fiasco and Keir Starmer’s dithering before challenging Sunak’s £2,000 tax lie, the campaign has gone tickety-boo. What could possibly go wrong before 4 July?

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Majority shareholder Nigel Farage appointing himself leader of Reform UK by shoving aside Richard Tice was typically brutal. Humiliated Tice maintains he consented. An earwitness recalling Farage ridiculing perfectly coiffed Tice as “the hairdresser” suggests in Farage’s world it remains Nigel’s way or no way.

Lib Dems cooed that Daisy Cooper prevented Angela Rayner from smearing embarrassing dad Ed Davey with his ConDem coalition past on the BBC’s seven-way debate. He’s also escaped the Fujitsu Post Office scandal while on the political roller-coaster.

[See also: The officer class is swelling Labour’s ranks]

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This article appears in the 12 Jun 2024 issue of the New Statesman, The hard-right insurgency