UK’s Sunak Faces Call For Election Date Betting Probe

On Thursday, a member of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s security detail was arrested for reportedly wagering on the timetable of the general election, sparking calls for an inquiry.

The Gambling Commission informed London’s Metropolitan Police that a close protection officer was under investigation for the purported bets.

The commission was already looking into allegations that Conservative party candidate Craig Williams, Sunak’s ministerial aide, wagered on when the election would be conducted.

Laura Saunders, a second candidate from Sunak’s party, is now being investigated for an alleged bet on the poll date, the BBC reported on Wednesday evening.

Saunders is married to Tony Lee, the Tories’ director of campaigns. He “took a leave of absence from CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) yesterday” (Wednesday), according to the party.

CCHQ previously said that the Gambling Commission had approached it on “a small number of individuals,” but declined to speak further.

Meanwhile, senior minister Michael Gove told reporters on the campaign trail that Saunders’ inquiry “doesn’t look great”.

He declined to comment on the specific charges, but previously stated that the “broad principle” of utilizing inside information to place wagers was “reprehensible”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is expected to succeed Sunak in Downing Street, has urged the prime minister to remove his support for individuals allegedly involved.

“It’s astonishing that we’re in this place… The government, Rishi Sunak, just needs to take action. He needs to account for exactly who knew what,” he said.

Labour’s campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden separately wrote to Sunak and said the claims were “a pattern of behaviour” in the Tories focused on making “a quick profit”.

Ed Davey, who leads the smaller Liberal Democrats, said the allegations smacked of “corruption”. “It needs to have a heavy hand from the top,” he added.

Wipe-out?

Sunak stated that a general election would be conducted on July 4, surprising his own party given that he had six months to call a vote.

The Conservatives are poised to be ousted after 14 years in power, with surveys routinely showing the main opposition Labour Party 20 points ahead.

Two polls published on Wednesday forecast a record win for Labour, surpassing even previous leader Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997, and a historic defeat for the Conservatives.

Pollsters According to YouGov, the Conservatives, the party of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, could lose the “lowest seat tally in the party’s almost 200-year history”.

In addition to criticism over Sunak’s choice to travel early, the Tory campaign has received widespread criticism for a number of gaffes, including a photocall in Belfast near the site of the doomed Titanic.

Sunak’s already low personal ratings suffered further when he abruptly left an international gathering commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

According to the Met, the officer, a member of the force’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Command, is no longer on operational duty.

The officer was arrested on Monday on suspicion of misconduct in a public position and later freed on bail awaiting further investigations.

The watchdog verified that a reference had been made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The charges against Williams surfaced last week. He is accused of placing a £100 ($127) bet on the election date in July three days before Sunak called it.

Sunak and other party leaders, including Labour’s Keir Starmer, will face another pre-election TV grilling later Thursday.

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