Opposition parties have criticised UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over a wager concerning his policy on Rwanda. During an interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, Sunak agreed to a £1,000 bet that deportation flights to Rwanda would commence before the next election, with the money going to a refugee charity. Labour accused the PM of being out of touch with the working class, while the SNP reported Sunak for potentially breaching ministerial rules with this “grotesque” bet.
SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesperson, Kirsty Blackman, has requested an investigation into whether Sunak violated the Ministerial Code. She cited rules that ministers must avoid conflicts between their public duties and private interests and should not accept gifts that could compromise their judgement or create improper obligations.
Blackman criticised Sunak’s bet as “grotesque, callous and downright cruel,” and indicative of how disconnected Westminster is from Scottish values. She also highlighted the inappropriateness of Sunak, one of the UK’s wealthiest individuals, accepting a £1,000 wager during a cost of living crisis.
Labour’s shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth echoed these sentiments, stating that most people struggling with rising costs can’t afford to make such bets.
Sunak’s policy of sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda is intended to deter channel crossings and is central to his pledge to “stop the boats”. However, legal challenges have delayed the plan. The government has introduced legislation declaring Rwanda a safe country, but it awaits approval from the House of Lords. The government aims for flights to start by spring.
In response to questions about whether he accepted the bet, the prime minister’s official spokesperson emphasised Sunak’s confidence in the deportation flights commencing. When asked if this bet set a good example given the government’s stance on gambling, the spokesperson stated that Sunak is focused on delivering on the British people’s priorities.