The SNP has requested an investigation into whether the Prime Minister broke the ministerial code when he accepted a bet with Piers Morgan on air.
The party has written to the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests and the Cabinet Secretary after criticising Rishi Sunak for a “depraved” bet with the broadcaster over whether flights will take off to Rwanda.
The TalkTV presenter offered the Prime Minister a £1,000 bet that ministers would not be able to send asylum seekers to Rwanda – Sunak shook hands with Morgan and appeared to accept the wager.
“I’ll bet you £1,000 to a refugee charity you don’t get anybody on those planes before the election,” Morgan told the Prime Minister.
Sunak has made the Rwanda plan central to his promise to “stop the boats” and curb migrant crossings in the Channel.
But time is running out for Sunak to get flights in the air, with the House of Lords able to significantly stall his Rwanda legislation and jeopardise an ambition to have removal flights leaving by the spring.
The Prime Minister was immediately criticised by opposition parties.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, in a post on X, formerly Twitter, said: “The lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet reduced to a crude bet. It’s just a game to these people. Depraved.”
In her letter to the independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Laurie Magnus, and cabinet secretary, Simon Case, SNP MP Kirsty Blackman said: “It is shameful and grotesque that Rishi Sunak, one of the richest men in the UK, is betting money on whether he can ship vulnerable refugees abroad in time for the election”.
The SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesperson claimed that it “appears to be a clear breach of the ministerial code and the Nolan Principles of Public Life” and that “the bet falls below the high standards people should expect of those in public life – not least the most powerful person in Westminster.”
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said: “Not a lot of people facing rising mortgages, bills and food prices are casually dropping £1,000 bets.
“It just shows that Rishi Sunak is totally out of touch with working people.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think what the Prime Minister’s saying, and obviously what is clear coming through from that interview, is the Prime Minister’s absolute confidence that we’ll get flights off the ground.”
The official pointed to the timetable previously set out by Sunak, which is “by the spring”.
The spokesman batted off questions on whether Sunak is setting a good example when the Government is taking a hard line on gambling.
“I think he’s focused on doing what is needed to deliver on the priorities for the British people,” he said.
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