in focus

How Sunak the statesman’s best-laid plans were thrown off course

As skies darkened at home, the prime minister hoped the Nato summit would offer him the chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine for all to see. However, what transpired in Vilnius was far from what the PM intended, writes Politics and Whitehall editor Kate Devlin

Saturday 15 July 2023 19:22 BST
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<p>The prime minister in Vilnius </p>

The prime minister in Vilnius

No 10 had to bat away suggestions that a bout of gentle sledging between Rishi Sunak and his Australian counterpart during the Nato summit this week was stage-managed. Sources were quick to point out that the customary gifts exchanged between the two just happened to be photos of different moments of the Ashes series.

But wider efforts to coordinate the message emerging from the summit itself were blown off course, a scenario that could be repeated for Mr Sunak in a series of difficult by-elections this coming Thursday.

Even as world leaders descended on Vilnius, the conference was rocked by an outcry over Ukraine’s treatment from a furious President Zelensky.

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