Rishi Sunak Says He Was 'Taken By Surprise' By Piers Morgan's Rwanda Bet Stunt

The prime minister has been condemned after agreeing to the £1,000 wager.
Rishi Sunak has been condemned over his bet with Piers Morgan.
Rishi Sunak has been condemned over his bet with Piers Morgan.
Liam McBurney - PA Images via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has insisted he was “taken by surprise” when he agreed to bet £1,000 that asylum seekers will be deported to Rwanda before the election.

The prime minister has been widely condemned after he shook hands on the wager during an hour-long interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV.

Morgan said: “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?”

“I want to get the people on the planes,” Sunak chuckled in response.

“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.”

The clip quickly went viral, prompting a furious backlash, with opposition politicians branding it “deeply distasteful” and “utterly disgusting”.

Appearing on BBC Radio 5Live this morning, Sunak tried to defend himself by suggesting he was unaware of what he was agreeing to.

The PM was also forced to defend agreeing to the high-value wager when so many British people are on the breadline.

Presenter Rachel Burden asked him: “When people are struggling to pay their food and fuel bills in this country, one of our listeners is saying they found that pretty offensive.”

Sunak replied: “If I’m being really honest, I’m not a betting person and I was taken totally by surprise in the middle of that interview.”

Burden said: “Was it a mistake to shake his hand?”

The PM said: “I was take totally by surprise. The point I was trying to get across was actually about the Rwanda policy and about tackling illegal migration.

“I was underlying my absolute commitment to this policy and my desire to get it through parliament [and] up and running.”

But Burden pointed out that the value of the bet was more than the three £300 cost of living payments the government is giving to those struggling to make ends meet.

She added: “People wonder whether you really understand the financial pressures they’re facing.”

Sunak replied: “At the moment lots of people are trying to block the Rwanda policy from coming into being and that’s why I was being asked the question.

“I’m totally committed to it and I want to get it up and running. We shouldn’t distract from that because that is the most important thing.”

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Most people when they are hit with a surprise £1,000 bill worry about how they are going to make their next mortgage payments or put food on the table for their children.

“Instead, the Prime Minister does not even register the significance of that amount of money. Out of touch does not even begin to describe Sunak.”


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