In an interview with Piers Morgan (January 5), British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak placed a bet of £1,000 on the success of his government’s Rwandan asylum plan. The exchange has caused outrage online with some calling for the PM’s resignation.
In a recent edition of Piers Morgan Uncensored titled ‘Piers Morgan vs Rishi Sunak Round 2 | Prime Minister Discusses Israel-Hamas War, NHS, Rwanda & More’, the broadcaster welcomed PM Rishi Sunak, marking a year since their first interview.
The pair discussed the cost of living, policing of pro-Palestine marches as well as Israel’s response to October 7 and the NHS, amongst other topics.
On the subject of illegal migration to the UK, Morgan praised the PM’s success in reducing the number of people arriving on boats from 45,000 to 29,000 but challenged the logic behind his Rwanda plan. Describing it as “a completely cack-handed policy”, Morgan expressed confusion that, even if successfully passed through Parliament, the plan would only deal with a fraction of the problem. He asked the PM “why is this the hill you want to die on?”.
Sunak replied that Rwanda was not all he had done but described the issue as “a really important one” and said “people coming here illegally undermine the sense of fairness on which our country is built” to which Morgan agreed.
The prime minister justified the need for “a deterrent” when dealing with illegal immigration and reiterated that “if someone comes here illegally, they shouldn’t be allowed to stay”. He recognised that these people cannot always return to their own country, but said an alternative is necessary to manage the sheer number of them.
In a five-year agreement, Sunak’s proposed Rwanda plan would see those arriving to the UK in search of asylum, flown to Rwanda where their claims would be processed. Conservative ministers have justified the plan, believing it would deter those attempting to cross the English Channel on small boats.
Under the plan, they would either be granted refugee status and allowed to stay or could apply to settle in Rwanda on other grounds. Alternatively they could seek asylum in a different ‘safe’ country but would not be allowed to return to the UK.
Rwanda is a small, landlocked East African nation and is located 4,000 miles from the UK.
The first flight to Rwanda was scheduled for June 2022 but was ultimately delayed after legal complications. At the end of last year in November 2023, the Supreme Court found the Rwanda scheme to be unlawful, citing concerns about the country’s record on human rights and treatment of refugees.
Sunak assured that when in motion, the Rwanda plan would reduce the number of people attempting to enter the UK by small boats across the Channel.
Morgan then entered into a deal with the PM and said, “I’ll bet you a thousand pounds, for a refugee charity, you don’t get anybody on those planes before the election, will you take that bet?”. Sealed with a handshake, Sunak assured the broadcaster that he was “working incredibly hard to get the people on the planes”.
The interviewer then asked whether this should be a priority for the government considering the ONS (Office for National Statistics) projected 73 million people will have entered the UK by 2036, not on small boats, but via the legal immigration system.
The prime minister then drew Morgan’s attention to the success of the agreement with Albania that saw those participating in illegal immigration, sent back. He believes “Rwanda will do the same thing for us”.
Morgan disclosed his “grim prediction” that the Rwandan plan would be unsuccessful before the PM asked, “but you don’t have an alternative way to solve that problem then?”. Morgan responded that he was not the prime minister but gave Sunak “a half pass” for his attempts to solve the issue.
The bet has caused controversy online with former leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) calling it “so callous” to gamble with people’s lives. Political commentator, Matthew Stadlen (@MatthewStadlen) agreed and described Sunak’s bet as “another low for this failing and inhumane Tory government”.
Chair of European Movement UK, Mike Galsworthy (@mikegalsworthy), expressed similar disapproval at the “fireside chat” between the pair and compared their language to that of a “Dickensian tale”.
Voicing outrage at the exchange, X user @Dr_BellaMC said it was “possibly the most disgusting thing I’ve seen from the PM” asking Sunak whether it was “just a game” to him. Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) shared the video and called it “vile” to dehumanise refugees and asylum seekers “in the most revolting way”.
Nick Tyrone (@NicholasTyrone) said Sunak looks bad in either scenario regarding his bet with the broadcaster: “if he loses, the PM looks weak” but “if he wins, it looks like he’s profited via human misery”.
Despite an attempt to win support ahead of the general election later this year, Sunak’s interview with Piers Morgan has only attracted the wrong kind of attention and will arguably now leave him with more questions to answer.
Edited by: Kaiyah Ellison
Photo credit: Piers Morgan Uncensored
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