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Sunak accused of making 'depraved bet' with Piers Morgan on Rwanda plan

Rishi Sunak has been accused of taking a "depraved bet" with broadcaster Piers Morgan over whether deportation flights to Rwanda will take off.

The prime minister is facing a backlash after appearing to accept the £1,000 wager about the stalled asylum policy.

Talk TV presenter Mr Morgan said: "I'll bet you £1,000 to a refugee charity you don't get anybody on those planes before the election. Will you take that bet?"

Mr Sunak then shook hands with Mr Morgan and said "of course I want to get people on the planes".

The prime minister was immediately criticised by opposition MPs, who accused him of "gambling with people's lives" and reducing vulnerable people "to a crude bet".

The SNP have even reported Mr Sunak to his own independent adviser on ministers' interests over what the party said was a potential breach of the ministerial code.

In a letter to Sir Laurie Magnus, SNP Cabinet Office spokesperson Kirsty Blackman said Mr Sunak's actions fall "below the high standards people should expect of those in public life" and may breach ministerial code rules on avoiding conflicts with private interests.

The SNP's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, in a post on X, said: "The lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet reduced to a crude bet. It's just a game to these people. Depraved."

Labour's Jonathan Ashworth said: "Not a lot of people facing rising mortgages, bills and food prices are casually dropping £1,000 bets.

"It just shows that Rishi Sunak is totally out of touch with working people."

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: "Words fail me that PM & Piers Morgan can be so callous about awful Rwanda policy that they place a bet on it.

"These are people's lives they're gambling over. Yet Sunak thinks nothing of agreeing a £1k bet. He's supposed to be the head of government, not a punter in a casino."

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The prime minister's official spokesman said the exchange with Mr Morgan showed he is "confident that those flights are getting off the ground".

Asked if Mr Sunak believes he has taken the bet, the spokesman added: "I think what the clip presents is his absolute conviction in this legislation."

Mr Sunak has made the Rwanda plan central to his promise to "stop the boats" and curb migrant crossings in the Channel. The government has spent at least £290m on the policy but no flights have taken off yet.

Time is running out to get flights in the air ahead of the next election, expected in the second half of this year.

Mr Sunak was dealt a huge blow last year when the Supreme Court ruled that the policy was unlawful.

He has put forward legislation aimed at avoiding future legal challenges, but this is facing heavy opposition in the House of Lords, which could significantly stall the bill's passage through parliament.