The prime minister was accused of a “tasteless stunt” after his appearance on Piers Morgan Uncensored saw him make shake hands on the wager with the controversial broadcaster.
In their interview, which went live on YouTube on Monday, Morgan began: “I’ll bet you a £1,000 to a refugee charity you don’t get anybody on those planes before the election.
“Will you take that bet?”
Although the idea of deporting refugees to Rwanda was first announced in 2022, not a single migrant has been flown there yet.
It’s also worth noting Sunak has refused to say when he plans on calling the next election, saying only that it may be in the second half of this year.
“I want to get the people on the planes,” Sunak chuckled in response to Morgan.
“Alright,” Morgan said, sticking out his hand for the PM to shake and seal the deal – which the prime minister quickly did, adding: “Of course I want to get the people on the planes!”
But Morgan then changed tack, and said: “Do you think that should be a priority when, at the same time, the ONS just predicted we could hit 73m people who, in this country, coming in not on boats, on the normal immigration system, by 2036.”
Sunak replied: “People talk to me a lot about illegal immigration, it’s important we grip it.”
He also said the government’s current plan to curb illegal migration was working – of which the Rwanda bill is just one part – and that Albania was an example of that.
“We created a new returns agreement with Albania,” claiming that illegal migrants then stopped coming after that.
“I do not think it’s going to work for you, that’s my grim prediction,” Morgan said.
Sunak said they would just have to “agree to disagree”, and pointed out that Morgan does not have “an alternative” suggestion to solve the crisis.
“Stopping the boats” was one of Sunak’s five priorities for 2023, shortly after he became prime minister, but it’s widely seen as a failure after nearly 30,000 asylum seekers came across the English Channel last year.
And it already looks like Sunak’s decision to bet on the Rwanda bill may not have gone down well at all...
Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock, SNP MP Alison Thewliss and Labour peer Stewart Wood were all quick to share their horror over the TV moment on X (formerly Twitter).
They weren’t the only ones, either...
In the same interview, Sunak also admitted that he had “failed” to meet his pledge to cut NHS waiting lists.
The prime minister made bringing them down one of his five promises to voters at the start of 2023.
Instead, waiting lists have gone up by around half a million since then.
Sunak admitted “we have not made enough progress” on cutting waiting lists.
Morgan then asked him: “You failed on that pledge?”
The PM replied: “Yes, we have.”