Worst Conservative Election Campaign Ever Gets Even Worse

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took a big gamble calling the British election early. Now his odds for winning are getting even longer thanks to a betting scandal that just cost him the guy running the entire campaign.One of the Conservative Party candidates running for a parliamentary seat is being probed by the U.K.’s gambling regulator

Powered by NewsAPI , in Liberal Perspective on .

news image

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took a big gamble calling the British election early. Now his odds for winning are getting even longer thanks to a betting scandal that just cost him the guy running the entire campaign.

One of the Conservative Party candidates running for a parliamentary seat is being probed by the U.K.’s gambling regulator over allegedly using inside information to place a bet on the timing of the upcoming general election, the BBC reported Thursday.

Adding intrigue to the report is the fact that the candidate in question is married to the Tories’ director of campaigns—who is also now reportedly being looked into by the regulator. That shock revelation means the Conservatives’ director of campaigning has taken a leave of absence with just two weeks left of the campaign, which was already going absolutely terribly.

Polls released in recent days show that the Conservative Party is on course for its worst result in more than 1srcsrc years. They may be reduced to around 7src lawmakers in the 65src-seat parliament, with many people claiming that this is the worst campaign in living memory.

Sunak caught analysts by surprise last month when he announced that the election would take place on July 4. His team had done a great job keeping the snap election plans hidden from the public.

The PM was not legally obligated to face the electorate until next January and with polls making grim reading for the Conservatives, some believed a later election would make more strategic sense by affording him more time to close the gap on the leading opposition Labour Party.

Just weeks before Sunak revealed the date, bookmakers had considered November the most likely month that the vote would come, with some reportedly offering odds of up to 6-1 for July.

Now Laura Saunders, the Tory candidate running for the Bristol North West constituency in southwest England, is reportedly being investigated by Britain’s Gambling Commission over a bet on the timing of the election (details about the bet, including its value, when it was placed, and the date it backed for the election, have not been revealed).

Saunders’ husband Tony Lee, the director of campaigning at the Conservative Party, left the campaign trail on Wednesday, according to the BBC. He, too, is now also facing scrutiny around an alleged election timing bet—though information on his supposed gamble have also not been disclosed.

“We have been contacted by the Gambling Commission about a small number of individuals,” a Conservative Party spokesman told the BBC. “As the Gambling Commission is an independent body, it wouldn’t be proper to comment further, until any process is concluded.”

Saunders isn’t the only aspiring Tory lawmaker to come under scrutiny over betting on the secret snap election. Craig Williams, described in the U.K. press as Sunak’s closest aide who is also seeking re-election to his parliamentary seat in Wales, has also apologized after The Guardian revealed he placed a bet worth around $127 backing a July election just three days before Sunak confirmed the date to the nation.

Williams was accused of placing the bet at a bookies in his own constituency at odds of 5-1, and he released a statement admitting that he “put a flutter” on the election. Asked by the BBC last week if he’d had inside information when he took the gamble, Williams evaded the question and said the matter was being dealt with as part of an “independent process with the Gambling Commission.” “I’ve clearly made a huge error of judgment,” he added. “That’s for sure. And I apologize.”

Incredibly, the election betting brouhaha doesn’t stop there.

A police officer working in Sunak’s close protection team has also been suspended from duty and arrested on Monday over more allegations about bets on the timing of the election. The gambling commission reportedly told Scotland Yard last week it was investigating alleged bets placed by a police constable from the Metropolitan Police’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Command, which is tasked with protecting government officials and members of the British Royal Family.

The officer was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, according to the BBC. “The matter was immediately referred to officers in the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, who opened an investigation, and the officer was also removed from operational duties,” a Met spokesperson told the broadcaster.

The bombshell betting allegations are the latest headache for Sunak and his ruling party. His announcement calling the election was a humiliating start as an umbrella-less Sunak was soaked standing in the rain outside Downing Street as he delivered the momentous news. He’s since made other unforced campaigning errors, most notably with his inexplicable decision to leave D-Day commemoration events in France early in order to fly back to the U.K. to tape a television interview.

Read More