IT is quite extraordinary that the Prime Minister of Great Britain should skip the international commemoration of the day exactly 80 years ago when thousands of his countrymen gave their lives to rid Europe of evil.

Rishi Sunak has at least, with the benefit of hindsight, apologised for a “mistake”. He has done so without the issue festering, and he hopes his apology will lance the boil. Perhaps it will, but the embarrassment will not be forgotten by veterans or by voters, especially by those already tempted by the right-wing patriotism of Reform UK.

Even using the word “mistake” is a mistake. A mistake is turning up at the wrong time for an appointment, not deliberately leaving a ceremony early where you are supposed to be representing your country in honour of those who gave their lives to do some electioneering.

Not only did he leave Britain represented by the unelected Lord Cameron, standing shoulder to shoulder with the presidents of the US and France and the chancellor of Germany, but he gave up the opportunity to portray himself as an international statesman and to network with the most powerful man in our side of the world.

It was a very poor judgement call. After the rain, after the football, after the Titanic, even Tory loyalists must be asking who is advising Mr Sunak. Why can’t they see the pitfalls he is blundering into?

As a local MP, many people will know Mr Sunak to be a decent fellow and he will surely be mortified by the slight his own constituents – from the Green Howards to Catterick Garrison, his seat covers a very military area – will be feeling, but sometimes apologising just isn’t enough.

In the 2010 campaign, Gordon Brown never recovered from calling a Labour supporter a “bigoted woman”, and this feels very like that.