Written by 04:46 World

U.K. Conservatives Hit by New Gambling Allegations Two Weeks Before Election

Britain’s embattled Conservative Party suffered a fresh blow after its director of campaigning took a leave of absence just two weeks before the election, following reports that his wife, one of the party’s candidates, was being investigated over allegedly placing a bet on the timing of the vote.

The inquiry by Britain’s gambling regulator into Laura Saunders, who is running as Conservative candidate in Bristol North West, is the latest in a string of investigations into politically connected people who are alleged to have made bets on the timing of the country’s snap general election.

The Conservative Party said on Thursday that its director of campaigning, Tony Lee, had taken a leave of absence. The BBC reported that Ms. Saunders was being investigated by the Gambling Commission, which oversees the industry in the U.K., and later updated its story to say that Mr. Lee was also facing a similar inquiry.

Neither Ms. Saunders or Mr. Lee have yet responded to requests for comment on the allegations.

Keir Starmer, the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, called for Ms. Saunders’ suspension as a Conservative Party candidate. “If it was one of my candidates they’d be gone and their feet would not have touched the floor,” he said.

The episode is the latest setback for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s faltering efforts to stay in Downing Street after he surprised the country last month by calling a general election for July 4.

The furor over betting risks damaging the party’s reputation because of the impression it could give that some Conservatives might profit personally from their political knowledge at a time when many Britons face a squeeze on living costs.

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Last modified: 21 June 2024
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