The SNP has asked Rishi Sunak’s ethics watchdog to investigate whether the Prime Minister broke the ministerial code by betting £1,000 on the fate of asylum seekers.

The party said it was “shameful and grotesque” that Mr Sunak made a "depraved" wager on whether he could deport asylum seekers to Rwanda before the general election.

The Prime Minister shook hands with broadcaster Piers Morgan when the latter offered him the bet during a Downing Street interview for Talk TV.

SNP MP Kirsty Blackman has now written to Sir Laurie Magnus, the independent  adviser on ministers’ interests, asking him to investigate the matter.

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She said the bet fell below the high standards expected of those in public life.

The Seven Principles of Public Life say office holders should conduct themselves with integrity and objectivity and not act or take decisions for “financial benefit”.

Under the UK Ministerial Code, ministers must ensure no conflict arises between their public duties and private interests and not accept any “gift or hospitality which might, or appear to, compromise their judgment or place them under an improper obligation”.

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.

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. 

The PM 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. 

In the TV interview, Mr Morgan said: "I'll bet you £1000 to a refugee charity you don't get anybody on those planes before the election, will you take that bet?" 

Accepting the wager and shaking 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.”

Ms Blackman said: “Placing a bet on the lives of vulnerable refugees fleeing war and persecution is grotesque, callous and downright cruel - and shows just how out of touch Westminster is with the values of people in Scotland.

"It's particularly shameful that Rishi Sunak, one of the richest men in the UK, thinks it's appropriate to accept a £1,000 wager - and will remind ordinary working families that near billionaire Sunak doesn't have a clue what life is like for the rest of us in a cost of living crisis.

"It also appears to be a clear breach of the ministerial code and the high standards that people should expect of those in public life - not least the most powerful person in Westminster.

"For Scotland, it shows Westminster has sunk to a new low and we would be better off escaping broken Brexit Britain and determining our own asylum policy with independence."

As well as a new law, Mr Sunak has ratified a new treaty with Rwanda, 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.

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SNPs Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also wrote on Twitter/X: “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 MPs Jonathan Ashworth added: “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.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think what the Prime Minister’s saying, and obviously what is clear coming through from that interview, is the Prime Minister’s absolute confidence that we’ll get flights off the ground.”

The official pointed to the timetable previously set out by Mr Sunak, “by the spring”.

He batted off questions on whether Mr Sunak was setting a good example when the Government is taking a hard line on gambling.

“I think he’s focused on doing what is needed to deliver on the priorities for the British people,” he said.