Sadiq Khan has criticised Rishi Sunak for betting £1,000 that the Government’s policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda will be up and running before the next general election.
The London mayor said there are many things he disagrees with the prime minister on, but that agreeing to the bet proposed by Piers Morgan during a TV interview “takes the biscuit”.
“It’s just such bad taste,” said Mr Khan. “It just reminds everyone how out of touch he is.
“I speak to Londoners every day – the idea of betting £1,000… But also on an issue like this, that’s incredibly sensitive, which is potential asylum seekers and refugees being put on a plane to Rwanda.”
He added: “I think it’s another reminder why he’s not fit to be our prime minister. I think he should call a general election to give the British public a chance for a fresh start – and I think that fresh start is [Labour leader] Keir Starmer.”
Mr Sunak has said that he was “taken by surprise” when Mr Morgan said to him during a TalkTV interview on Monday: “I’ll bet you £1,000 to a refugee charity you don’t get anybody on those planes before the election. Will you take that bet?”
The prime minister shook hands with the journalist on the wager and said he was “working incredibly hard to get the people on the planes”.
The policy of sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda aims to deter people from crossing the English Channel and is a key part of Mr Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”.
However, the plan has been delayed by legal challenges, with no deportation flights taking off yet.
The Government has introduced legislation declaring Rwanda a safe country but the bill needs to be approved by the House of Lords before it becomes law. The Government has said it is still aiming for flights to take off by the spring.
Mr Sunak has said he expects a general election to be held in the second half of this year and one must legally take place by the end of January 2025.