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Rishi Sunak ‘incredibly angry’ over ‘really serious’ election date betting allegations | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has said he is “incredibly angry” to learn of allegations that Tory candidates placed bets on the election date, calling it a “really serious matter”.

The prime minister told the BBC Question Time leader’s special that “it’s right they’re being investigated by relevant law enforcement” and he is “crystal clear that if anyone has broken the rules they should face [the] full force of the law”.

Asked why those under suspicion haven’t been suspended, Mr Sunak said an investigation had to take place first – but anyone guilty would be “booted out” of the party.

Election latest: BBC Question Time hosting party leaders

Two Conservative candidates are being investigated by the Gambling Commission over alleged wagers placed on the date of the 4 July contest.

Laura Saunders, the candidate for Bristol North West, has worked for the party since 2015 and is married to the Conservative Party’s director of campaigns, Tony Lee.

Mr Lee “took a leave of absence” from his role on Wednesday night, a Conservative Party spokesman told Sky News.

The revelation came a week after the prime minister’s close parliamentary aide Craig Williams, the Tory candidate in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, was revealed to have placed a bet on a July election date three days before the prime minister announced it.

An industry source told Sky News that “more names” are being looked at, though police “are not involved”.

Pic: BBC
Pic: BBC

Mr Sunak was asked by an audience member if the allegations are “the absolute epitome of the lack of ethics that we have had to tolerate from the Conservative party for years and years”.

He replied: “I was incredibly angry to learn of these allegations. It is a really serious matter.”

“I want to be crystal clear that if anyone has broken the rules, they should face the full force of the law.”

Quizzed over why the candidates have not been suspended while the investigations take place, Mr Sunak said the “integrity of that process should be respected”.

He added: “What I can tell you is if anyone is found to have broken the rules, not only should they face the full consequences of the law, I will make sure that they are booted out of the Conservative Party.”

The prime minister’s close protection officer has also been arrested and suspended over alleged bets about the timing of the election.

Labour Party campaign sources told Sky News they noticed the odds on a July election narrow the day before Mr Sunak announced it on 22 May.

Earlier, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for Ms Saunders to be suspended and said it is “very telling” Mr Sunak has not already done so.

“If it was one of my candidates, they’d be gone and their feet would not have touched the floor,” he added.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Ms Saunders said she will be “cooperating with the Gambling Commission” investigation.

She also said she is considering “legal action against the BBC” claiming their initial story was “premature” and “in breach of her privacy rights”.

Mr Williams admitted to putting a “flutter” on the election “some weeks ago”, saying the has resulted in “some routine inquiries” which he was co-operating with “fully”.

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