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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Alamy Stock Photo
Refugees

Rishi Sunak made £1,000 bet with Piers Morgan over plan to deport refugees to Rwanda

Sunak has since faced criticism about making the bet on such a controversial subject at a time when many households are struggling to make ends meet.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak made a £1,000 bet with Piers Morgan that flights with refugees would depart for Rwanda before the next UK general election. 

Last month, Sunak successfully won the backing of the House of Commons for his bill that seeks to deport migrants from the United Kingdom to Rwanda.

The Rwanda plan is central to Sunak’s promise to “stop the boats” and curb migrant crossings in the Channel.

However, time is running out for Sunak to get flights in the air, with the House of Lords able to significantly stall the legislation and jeopardise an ambition to have removal flights leaving by the spring.

During a sitdown interview, TalkTV presenter Piers Morgan offered the Prime Minister a £1,000 charity bet that ministers would not be able to send asylum seekers to Rwanda by the time of the election.

When asked if he would take the bet, Sunak said: “Well, I want to get the people on the planes … of course, I want to get the people on the planes.” 

He proceeded to shake hands with Morgan on the bet. 

Sunak has since faced criticism about making the bet on a whim on such a controversial subject at a time when many households are struggling to make ends meet.

“I’m not a betting person and I was taken totally by surprise in the middle of that interview,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. 

Asked if it was a mistake, he said: “No, well the point I was trying to get across … was actually about the Rwanda policy and about tackling illegal migration because it’s something I care deeply about.”

When asked if he understood the financial pressures facing ordinary households, Mr Sunak said: “When it comes to cost of living, when I first got this job I set out five priorities – the first of them was to halve inflation because I absolutely understood that the cost of living was the most pressing problem most families faced.”

The SNP has reported the British Prime Minister to his own independent adviser on ministers’ interests and the Cabinet Secretary over what the party said was a potential breach of the ministerial code.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that the “depraved” incident saw “the lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet reduced to a crude bet”.

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

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said that Sunak “either does not care or does not get it”.

“As the Prime Minister buries his head in the sand and pretends everything is fine, people across the country are suffering,” Cooper said. 

“Most people when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill worry about how they are going to make their next mortgage payments or put food on the table for their children,” he said. 

“Instead, the Prime Minister does not even register the significance of that amount of money. Out of touch does not even begin to describe Sunak.”

Downing Street later refused to say whether the Prime Minister regrets making the wager and sought to clarify that he had meant he was not a betting person “in general” when asked about previous comments in which Sunak referred to having enjoyed spread betting on cricket.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Test Match Special during last year’s Ashes, Sunak had said he used to enjoy spread betting while working as an investment banker.

Number 10 said he was “obviously referring to a time many years ago” and “what he was referring to (today) is the fact that in general he’s not a betting person”.

Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty have a combined wealth estimated at around £529 million, according to 2023’s Sunday Times Rich List.

Includes reporting by Press Association

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