A ‘bruised’ Rishi Sunak returns to the campaign trail today as Nigel Farage triggered a race row over the PM’s D-Day fiasco.

The Prime Minister spent a low-key weekend regrouping after a storm of criticism at his decision to return early from last week’s 80th anniversary commemorations, for which he apologised on Friday.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride was forced to quash speculation Mr Sunak could resign before the election.

He said the Prime Minister was ‘deeply patriotic’ and had taken the criticism ‘very deeply, personally’ but there was ‘no question’ of him quitting. 

As one ally said the PM was feeling ‘bruised’ by the furore, Tory sources said he would return to the forefront of the campaign, including a major BBC interview on prime-time TV tonight.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty with 98-year-old D-Day veteran Alec Penstone at the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty with 98-year-old D-Day veteran Alec Penstone at the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy

Mr Sunak with the King and Queen and The president of France, Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the commemoration

Mr Sunak with the King and Queen and The president of France, Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the commemoration 

Nigel Farage speaking at the BBC's seven party debate. The Reform leader has accused Mr Sunak of not being patriotic

Nigel Farage speaking at the BBC’s seven party debate. The Reform leader has accused Mr Sunak of not being patriotic 

Yesterday Mr Farage tried to capitalise on the row, accusing Mr Sunak of being ‘not patriotic’. But the Reform leader was accused of ‘dog whistle politics’ – code for subtly appealing to racist sentiments – when he suggested the Prime Minister does not care about ‘our culture’.

Mr Farage told the BBC Mr Sunak ‘should have known in his heart, that it was right to be there’.

He claimed the Tory leader ‘doesn’t really care about our history, he doesn’t really care – frankly – about our culture’.

Challenged over the comments, he insisted he had been talking about Mr Sunak’s ‘class’ rather than his heritage as the son of first-generation immigrants.

Mr Farage denied any racial element, saying that ’40 per cent of our contribution’ in the two world wars ‘came from the Commonwealth’.

He added that the PM was ‘utterly disconnected by class, by privilege, from how ordinary folk feel. He revealed that, I think spectacularly, when he left Normandy early’.

Mr Stride said he was ‘very uncomfortable’ at the ‘ill-advised’ comments, adding: ‘I’m very proud we have a British Asian right at the top of our Government.’

Labour’s justice spokesman Shabana Mahmood accused Mr Farage of ‘dog whistle’ politics.

‘We can all see exactly what he is doing, he’s got form, it is completely unacceptable,’ she added.

‘This is a man that has a track record of seeking to divide communities who just wants to do it with a veneer of respectability.’

Mr Sunak attended D-Day commemorations in Portsmouth and Normandy, France, last week.

But he left Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron to represent Britain at an ‘international event’ attended by Emmanuel Macron, Joe Biden, Volodymyr Zelensky and other world leaders. The Prime Minister apologised the next day, saying he ‘deeply regrets’ his decision to leave early. The backlash has deepened the gloom around the Tory campaign which has so far failed to dent Labour’s huge poll lead.

Former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries suggested at the weekend the PM could even ‘fall on his sword’ but senior Tories dismissed this.

One said: ‘In the words of Churchill, he has got to keep buggering on – there isn’t any other option. He just needs to stop buggering up.’

Mr Sunak told The Mail On Sunday: ‘We all make mistakes. We’re all human. But I’m motivated to do what I can for this country to the best of my ability. That’s what keeps me going.’

He hopes to reboot the Conservative campaign tomorrow when he is expected to unveil the party’s manifesto and focus on the political divide over tax.

Mr Stride told Sky News that Mr Sunak will ‘absolutely’ lead the Tories into the election and denied that ‘all is lost’.

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