Rwanda flights will take off after the General Election, says Rishi Sunak

Flights carrying migrants to Rwanda will take off “after the election”, Rishi Sunak has conceded, as he urged voters to back him at the polls if they want to see this happen.

The Prime Minister made the admission as he toured the broadcast studios ahead of a two-day trip across the UK to mark the start of the campaign.

Mr Sunak called the election on Wednesday night in a rain-soaked press statement in Downing Street, with the date set for July 4.

He and his ministers have repeatedly marked early July for when the first one-way deportation flight for migrants to east African nation Rwanda will take place.

Speaking to LBC, the Prime Minister conceded these will now take off “after the election”.

rwanda flights will take off after the general election, says rishi sunak

(PA Graphics)

“If I’m elected, we will get the flights off,” he said.

Pressed further on timing, he said: “No, after the election.

“The preparation work has already gone on.”

Speaking to GB News, he had earlier insisted the Rwanda scheme would provide a deterrent, adding: “Unless you’re able to deliver that, people will keep coming.”

The Prime Minister denied that the real reason for calling a summer election is that inflation is expected to rise again and there is likely to be a spike in small boat arrivals over the summer.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Prime Minister said: “No, that’s not the real reason.

“And when it comes to the economy, of course I know there’s more work to do. I know that people are only just starting to feel the benefits of the changes that we’ve brought.

“And for some people when they look at their bank balance at the end of every month it will still be difficult, but we have undeniably made progress and stability has returned.”

Mr Sunak embarks on a whistlestop tour of all four UK nations on Friday.

His Labour rival Sir Keir Starmer, meanwhile, kicks off his election campaign with a visit to south-east England, in a sign he wants to make inroads in Tory areas.

In London, Reform UK’s leader Richard Tice is staging a press conference setting out his party’s plans.

The party’s most high-profile figure, honorary president Nigel Farage, said he was thinking about whether to return to frontline politics by standing in the July 4 election.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey is expected to visit a target seat as he launches a campaign expected to focus on winning Tory-held seats following a series of eye-catching by-election successes.

Mr Sunak surprised many in Westminster who had expected an autumn poll when he fired the starting gun for the summer election.

rwanda flights will take off after the general election, says rishi sunak

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the General Election in a rain-soaked statement outside Downing Street (Lucy North/PA)

The news caused disquiet among Tory MPs fearful of losing their jobs, and those who have already said they will not stand and are having to say goodbye to Parliament sooner than expected.

Despite speculation at Westminster about a Tory rebel effort to oust Mr Sunak and call off the election, one prominent critic of the Prime Minister said it was “too late” to get rid of him.

Just two more days of Commons business have been scheduled, during which important legislation will have to be rushed through.

Party whips from the Conservatives and Labour are holding talks to work out what outstanding legislation can become law before prorogation – the end of the current parliamentary session – on Friday.

That includes the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which includes measures to establish a compensation scheme for victims of the infected blood scandal.

The Prime Minister could not guarantee this would be authorised, or that Martyn’s Law and the Renters Reform Bill would be passed before Parliament is prorogued.

But he told LBC he would “do absolutely everything in my power to make sure that we do get that through”.

In his Downing Street statement, the Prime Minister said the election would be a question of trust, warning that Sir Keir was not the man to lead the country through “uncertain” times.

Mr Sunak hopes that Consumer Prices Index inflation falling to 2.3% in April and a recovering economy will help overturn a 20-point opinion poll deficit.

Sir Keir said the election would be a chance to turn the page on 14 years of Conservative rule and “stop the chaos” at Westminster.

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