British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responds to Conservative election date betting accusations

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that anyone found using inside information to bet on the date of the UK’s July 4 national election should be expelled from his Conservative Party.

Appearing on the BBC’s Question Time programme, Sunak said he was “incredibly angry, incredibly angry” to learn of allegations that Conservative politicians betted on the election date and that they “should face the full force of the law” if they were found to have broken the law.

The scandal comes just two weeks ahead of the general election and amid dire polling results for the Conservative Party which is trailing the main opposition Labour Party by 20 points.

Sunak announced on 22 May that parliamentary elections would be held on 4 July. The date had been a closely guarded secret and many, even those in Sunak’s governing Conservative Party, were taken by surprise as a vote had been expected in the fall.

British media reported on Thursday that Tory candidate Laura Saunders, who is married to the Conservative Party’s director of campaigning, Tony Lee, is facing a commission investigation into alleged betting offences.

Saunders’ lawyer, Nama Zarroug, said she would cooperate with the authorities and had no further comments to make.

The Conservative Party said Britain’s Gambling Commission had contacted them about a “small number of individuals” involved in the investigation.

Rishi Sunak took part in a leadership debate on BBC Question Time

The party declined to comment immediately on the new allegation, pending the commission’s investigation. However, it stated that Lee took a leave of absence from the party on Wednesday.

The broadening scandal came after reports on Wednesday that one of Sunak’s police bodyguards had been arrested for allegedly betting on the election date before it was announced. According to the Metropolitan Police, the constable from the Royalty and Specialist Protection Command was arrested on Monday on suspicion of misconduct in public office.

Last week, Sunak aide Craig Williams, who is running to be re-elected to parliament, acknowledged he was being investigated by the Gambling Commission for placing a £100 pound (€118) bet on a July election before the date had been announced.

During the BBC debate, Sunak also reiterated his stance on migration, telling the audience: “Illegal immigration is wrong. When people jump the queue and come to our country illegally, it undermines the notion, the sense of fairness that our entire country is built on. And of course, it puts pressure on public services and it causes security issues.”

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