LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologized Friday for leaving D-Day commemorations in France early to fly home for an election campaign television interview.

Sunak said that, “on reflection” the decision — which has drawn wide political condemnation — was a mistake.

Sunak was not alongside leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the major memorial event at Omaha Beach in Normandy on Thursday. Former Prime Minister David Cameron, who is now foreign minister, represented the U.K.

Earlier in the day, Sunak had attended a ceremony at the British memorial in Normandy alongside King Charles III and surviving World War II veterans. He also attended a commemoration in Portsmouth, England, the day before.

Sunak wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion that helped free Europe from the Nazis “should be about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The last thing I want is for the commemorations to be overshadowed by politics.”

He added: “On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer — and I apologise.”

The prime minister, who is fighting to keep his job in Britain’s July 4 election, recorded an interview with broadcaster ITV on Thursday after returning from France. A clip released by the broadcaster showed Sunak denying opposition allegations that he lied by making inaccurate statements about the opposition Labour Party’s tax plans.

Labour lawmaker Jonathan Ashworth said the decision to leave France early showed “dreadful judgment” by Sunak. Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said it was “a total dereliction of duty.”

Craig Oliver, who was communications director to Cameron’s Conservative government, said “the problem for Rishi Sunak this morning is he’s accused of not getting what it is to be a prime minister and what his duties are as a prime minister.”

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