Top Sunak aide placed bet on general election date days before announcement


U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s closest parliamentary aide Craig Williams placed a £100 bet on a July election just three days before the Conservative prime minister named the date of the snap poll.

The paper reported that Williams, Sunak’s parliamentary private secretary, placed a £100 bet with bookmaker Ladbrokes in his Montgomeryshire constituency May 19.

It said the Gambling Commission watchdog — which doesn’t publicly comment on early-stage investigations — had opened an inquiry. The bet could have led to a £500 payout on odds of 5/1 but was, the Guardian reports, flagged by Ladbrokes as potentially problematic.

In a statement Wednesday night, Williams said he wanted to be “totally transparent” and acknowledged placing a bet.

“I put a flutter on the general election some weeks ago,” he said. “This has resulted in some routine inquiries and I confirm I will fully cooperate with these. I don’t want it to be a distraction from the campaign, I should have thought how it looks.”

The Conservative Party is trailing in the polls ahead of the July 4 vote that Sunak called to the surprise of most observers in Westminster. A party spokesperson told the paper: “We are aware of contact between a Conservative candidate and the Gambling Commission.

“It is a personal matter for the individual in question. As the Gambling Commission is an independent body, it wouldn’t be proper to comment further, until any process is concluded.”

Williams is fighting for reelection as the Tory candidate for Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr in mid-Wales.

The story was trumpeted by the opposition Labour Party, which hopes to oust Sunak next month.