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Lifelong Tory voters furious at PM, says Labour

Rishi Sunak’s D-Day blunder is nudging lifelong Tory voters into backing Labour, party insiders have said.

Labour activists believe people unsure whether to back the Conservatives again – who may have not voted at all – have been infuriated by the row and are turning towards Labour.

Campaigners for the party said the PM’s decision to leave the international commemorations event early, which he later apologised for, had gone down badly on doorsteps.

An activist described coming across a “lifelong Tory voter” switching to Labour “because, and I quote, ‘That D-Day sh*t was a f*cking disgrace’.”

Another source said there were “lots of elderly people very annoyed” about the issue. Describing them as “lifelong Tories” who had still been planning to vote Conservative, or abstain, now considering supporting Labour.

Tory campaigners said the issue had not been as much of a problem on doorsteps as they had been expecting.

One said they were more concerned about losing votes to Reform UK following the resurgence of Nigel Farage, who is now party leader and a candidate.

The source said the D-Day issue had “come up once” on the doorsteps but the voter said they would still be supporting the Conservatives despite their frustration.

But the activist shared concerns about the Tory campaign hitting a ceiling in terms of resources: “We’re still able to mobilise pretty big groups. We’ve noticed Labour activists are growing in size though. They seem more motivated and [the] gap isn’t closing like they said it would.

“I am less worried about people switching to Labour – I’m more concerned about the increased interest in Reform.”

The D-Day row could, however, create some seats to watch because of the narrow gap between Labour and the Conservatives in constituencies where military veterans form a high proportion of the electorate.

According to the House of Commons library analysis of the 2021 census, Gosport has the highest proportion of veterans at 12.7 per cent, followed by Sleaford and North Hykeham (9.9 per cent) and South West Devon (9.4 per cent).

The latest YouGov poll predicting a seat-by-seat result in the election has Gosport on a 38 per cent Tory vote, against 30 per cent support for Labour.

Sleaford and North Hykeham has just seven points between the parties – the Tories on 40 per cent and Labour on 33 per cent.

The same applies to South West Devon where the YouGov polling has 39 per cent for Tories and 32 per cent for Labour.

Plymouth Moor View, where veterans minister Johnny Mercer is standing for the Tories, has the fourth-highest proportion of ex-military personnel at 9.2 per cent. Currently Labour is predicted to win.

Fareham & Waterlooville, the constituency of former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, has 8.7 per cent of voters having served in the armed forces.

According to YouGov, there are 11 points between Labour, which has 26 per cent of the vote share, and the Conservatives, with 37 per cent.

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