Sunak vows to ‘boot out’ Tories found to have broken betting rules


Any Conservatives who have broken gambling rules will be “booted out” of the party, Rishi Sunak has said as officials admitted a fourth person with ties to the prime minister was being investigated.

This week the BBC reported that Laura Saunders, the Tories’ candidate for Bristol North West, and her husband Tony Lee, the party’s director of campaigning, are both under investigation by the Gambling Commission over an alleged bet relating to the timing of the general election.

It’s not known when either individual placed a bet or for how much money. During last night’s TV debate, Sunak told the audience he was “incredibly angry” when he learned about the allegations, which have now dominated coverage of an already failing campaign for more than a week.

“If anyone has broken the rules they should face the full force of the law and that’s what those investigations are there to do,” Sunak said.

Last week the Guardian revealed that Craig Williams, one of the prime minister’s closest parliamentary aides, who is standing for re-election in Montgomeryshire & Glyndwr, placed a £100 bet on a July election three days before the prime minister announced the date. At the time, the decision to go for an early summer election was widely met with surprise. 

Neither Williams nor Saunders have been suspended. Separately, an officer working in Sunak’s close protection team was arrested on Monday. 

The use of inside information to gain an unfair advantage when betting could be a criminal offence under the Gambling Act.  

Sunak dodged suggestions that any action should be taken before the “confidential” process has concluded, saying: “The integrity of that process should be respected. But what I can say – if anyone is found to have broken the rules, not only should they face the full consequences of the law, I will make sure they are booted out of the Conservative party.” 

The scandal has dominated headlines for days, and was the second question put to Sunak, as an audience member said it was the “absolute epitome of the lack of ethics that we have had to tolerate from the Conservative party for years and years”. 

The first question was whether, after the years of turmoil and leadership churn, Sunak would “confess to us tonight, even just a small amount of embarrassment to be leading the Conservative party”.

Earlier in the day, the party quietly deleted a post from its official X account featuring a roulette wheel and the accompanying caption: “If you bet on Labour, you can never win.”