Rishi Sunak said he was “absolutely committed” to his Rwanda policy during an hour-long Q&A session with GB News where he insisted he understood the country’s frustrations after 14 years of Conservative-led government.
The prime minister told voters that Rwanda’s deportation scheme was needed as a “deterrence” of crossings.
Sunak was asked by a voter at the GB News People’s Forum why he was “so adamant” about following the policy in Rwanda “when public documentation shows it doesn’t work and it won’t work”.
Sunak said: “To completely solve this problem, we need a deterrent. We need to be able to say simply and clearly that if you come to our country illegally, you cannot continue.
“We want to remove you from your homeland if it is safe, like we did in Albania, and for everyone we need an alternative and that is what Rwanda is about.”
“I am fully committed to getting this bill through parliament and getting it up and running.”
He challenged Labor and the House of Lords to support the bill, saying: “We are committed to getting it through parliament, but unfortunately, we don’t have a majority in the House of Lords.
“Everyone right now as we speak is lining up to make deals in the House of Lords to block us… We’ve already seen that in the Commons.”
Asked by a voter why traditional Conservative supporters should support Sunak and not the Nigel Farage-linked Reform UK, Sunak said he appreciated people’s “failure”.
“I think fundamentally, what you want and what I want are the same,” he said. “The next election is a straightforward choice. At the end of it, either Keir Starmer or I will be prime minister and a vote for anyone who is not a Conservative candidate is just a vote to put Keir Starmer in No 10.
But in a sign he is thinking about his next career after Downing Street, Sunak suggested he would be “out” of politics in 14 years.
Speaking about his record on the NHS, the prime minister said: “I may not be able to make it to the 14 years it takes to train the consultant we’ve started to invest in, but it’s the right long-term thing to do. It’s going to be done for our country, that’s why I did it.
He appealed to undecided voters to support him to help see his policies through.
“There is still work to be done and that is this year’s election. That’s the choice,” he said. “Are we going ahead with this plan? Our plan starts with delivering the change you want and deserve in this country. Or are we going back to square one with Keir Starmer and the Labor party?
“Now we just saw last week, with the complete mess of the £28bn decarbonisation policy, that Labor has no plan – and if you don’t have a plan, you can’t deliver any change.”
Sunak also accused Starmer of attacking her because of her privileged background and private schooling, and saying it was “un-British”.
“Keir Starmer attacked me because of where I went to school,” he said. “You never attacked me, you attacked my parents, and you attacked everyone like them who are trying so hard to dream for a better life for themselves and their family. I think this is wrong. I don’t think it’s British. And that’s not the kind of country I’m going to build. “