Rishi Sunak has bet £1,000 that he can deport asylum seekers to Rwanda before the general election

The Prime Minister accepted the wager in a Talk TV interview in Downing Street with Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror.

Mr Sunak has made stopping the small boat crossings in the English Channel a top priority for the UK Government, with deporting those involved to Rwanda being used as a deterrent.

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However the UK Supreme Court ruled last year that the £240million scheme could not go ahead as the east African state was not currently a safe destination.

The Government is now putting legislation through Westminster to overcome the court’s objection by declaring in law that Rwanda is safe - an absurdity, say critics. 

Mr Sunak has also ratified a new treaty with the government in Kigali, which would be paid to process the asylum claims of people arriving illegally in the UK.

If an asylum claim was approved, people would then stay in Rwanda, not return to the UK.

The Prime Minister has said he wants the new system running by the spring, however the Rwanda Safety Bill is currently tied up in the Lords, where peers are largely hostile to it. 

After accepting the bet on whether deportations would take place before the election, which is expected in November, the PM and Mr Morgan shook hands on it.

Mr Sunak said: “I want to get the people on the plane. I am working incredibly hard to get the people on the planes.”

However the Prime Minister also admitted in the interview that he had missed another of the five key pledges he made at the start of 2023 - to cut NHS waiting lists south of the border.

The Tory leader blamed industrial action in the health sector by medical staff demanding better pay and conditions, saying it “had an impact” on delivering the commitment.

The PM said: “We have not made enough progress.”

Asked if he had failed on the pledge, Mr Sunak replied: “Yes, we have.”

Although a pay deal with striking nurses and Agenda for Change staff was agreed last year, junior doctors and consultants have continued with walkouts across the English NHS.

The waiting list for treatments stood at 7.21million treatments in January 2023, when Mr Sunak made his pledge, but had risen to 7.61m by last November.  

When the increase was put to Mr Sunak: “Yes, and we all know the reasons for that.

“And what I would say to people is, look, we have invested record amounts in the NHS, more doctors, more nurses, more scanners.

“All these things mean that the NHS is doing more today than it ever has been.

“But industrial action has had an impact.”

Mr Morgan told Mr Sunak his 79-year-old mother had to wait seven hours on a trolley in an A&E corridor after having a heart attack three months ago, in a scene she compared to a “war zone”.

The Prime Minister said the account was “shocking” and that performance in A&E and with ambulance waiting times were “not good enough”.

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However he denied that the Tories had failed the NHS since 2010, citing the backlog created by the coronavirus pandemic, adding: “We can’t escape that.

“When you shut down the country in the NHS for the best part of two years, that has had an impact on everything since then. And we just have to recognise that reality.”

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “Rishi Sunak has finally admitted what has been blatantly obvious to everyone else for years – the Conservatives have failed on the NHS.Where Sunak has failed, Labour will succeed in getting the NHS back on its feet. We did it before and we will do it again.”


Piers Morgan Uncensored YouTube channel at 2pm and TalkTV at 8pm on Monday.