James Cleverly told a BBC presenter “please don’t interrupt me” as the pair clashed over the government’s Rwanda scheme.
The home secretary let his irritation show as he was grilled by Charlier Stayt on BBC Breakfast this morning.
It came after Cleverly insisted the policy - which was ruled unlawful yesterday by the Supreme Court - was already deterring migrants from trying to cross the Channel in small boats.
Cleverly said: “This Rwanda plan is part of a basket of responses to illegal migration.”
Stayt told him: “Well it’s not at the moment because it doesn’t exist and it never has.”
But the home secretary replied: “It is already working. Small boat arrivals are down by a third.”
The presenter hit back: “Hold on. You’re saying that the Rwanda flights plan is working as a deterrent even though it doesn’t exist.”
Cleverly said: “Yes. That is exactly what I’m saying and the reason we know this is because we interview the people who are arriving, facilitates by people smugglers, and we know that other potential migrants are being dissuaded because of the understanding that they might be deported to Rwanda.”
He added: “It’s worth remembering - and please don’t interrupt me this time when I’m trying to deploy the details about how this is working - across Europe illegal arrivals are going up, in the UK it’s going down by a third.”
Cleverly also said the UK would agree a “legally binding treaty” with Rwanda to address the problems identified by the Supreme Court judges, thereby allowing flights to finally take off next year.
Stayt told him the government’s response was “terrifically vague” but Cleverly hit back: “I’m not going to pick a specific date on the calendar, but you can rest assured that this is a key part of our battle against illegal migration.”