Sunak’s TV bet on Rwandan plans was desperately cruel, childish and callous

I thought we’d seen it all with Boris Johnson’s grotesque Partygate antics during lockdown which caused repulsion and anger in equal measure.
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And then along comes Rishi Sunak who goes on a TV talk show and accepts a bet from Piers Morgan that he will get asylum seekers on his plane to Rwanda before the next election.

They shook hands on a grand; not even loose change to a politician worth millions upon millions. The soundbite was utterly vulgar.

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“I’ll bet you £1000 for a refugee charity you won’t get anyone in the planes before the election. Will you take the bet?” asked Morgan. Sunak stumbled and mumbled, but of course he wants to get people on the plane, just as much as he wants to stop the boats. Twin obsessions which will be the legacy of this wretched government as soon as it is removed and dumped in the gutter.

Rishi Sunak's bet with Piers Morgan was arguably another new low for politics (Pic Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Rishi Sunak's bet with Piers Morgan was arguably another new low for politics (Pic Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak's bet with Piers Morgan was arguably another new low for politics (Pic Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“One thousand pounds” Morgan repeated.

Sunak deferred and shook hands. He didn’t actually say “you’re on” - that’ll be his way of squirming out of any flak - but he shook hands. The inference was obvious.

Morgan’s challenge was a cheap stunt which shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone, but Sunak’s acceptance was crass and cruel, and a new low in British politics. It couldn’t have been any more offensive had the theme tune to ‘Play Your Cards Right’ blared out, and he gambled higher or lower on the number he reckoned would be frog marched on to the plane while an audience whooped and hollered as Morgan signed off with a cheery “and tune in next week to see how many single parents the Tories can demonise before lunchtime.”

Two wealthy, privileged men having a wager over the fate of people’s futures. All they missed was handing out the cigars and patting each other on the back for their wheeze. How did we get to this dark place?

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Sunak was our third Prime Minister in two months after the idiotic Johnson and the scarily out of her depth Liz Truss, who still managed to crash the economy before disappearing into obscurity.

He promised he would unite the country “not with words but action” and would work “day in and day out to deliver.”

Trust, he said with one eye on the news headlines and focus groups, is earned, and he would earn it. Like Johnson before him, Sunak has proved to be utterly out of his depth. His response to Morgan should have been to dismiss his childish offer and swiftly sidestep the obvious trap. Instead, he acted like a punter in a casino eying up once last bid to win big.

That he didn’t - or couldn’t - sums up the calibre of our political leaders in 2024, and the most frustrating thing is nothing will happen. There will be no outrage or demands that he should resign. Even if there were, he’d just shrug and carry on. That seems to be the way of this self-serving, shockingly inadequate Government.

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His debasement of his office would, in any other times, mark the end of the road - regardless of what you think of their politics, serious PMs such as Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher or Gordon Brown would never have contemplated shaking on such a childish bet with a shock jock like Morgan.

Change cannot come soon enough - not just a change in Government, but a change in the calibre of the people we send to parliament.