Home secretary says aide who called Rwanda policy ‘crap’ did it for ‘dramatic effect’

UK

Home Secretary James Cleverly has told Sky News his aide called the Rwanda policy “crap” for dramatic effect but is in support of it.

James Sunderland, who has been the MP for Bracknell since 2019 and is standing there again, was recorded at a private event in April saying: “I have been part of this for the last two years, and I’m immersed in it and I probably shouldn’t say too much.

“What I would say to you is that – nobody has got their cameras on, their phones – the policy is crap, okay? It’s crap.”

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Mr Sunderland, who has been a parliamentary private secretary to Mr Cleverly and his predecessor Suella Braverman, then went on to defend the plan, saying it will deter migrants from trying to cross the Channel, according to the BBC which first obtained the recording.

“It’s not about the policy. It’s about the effect of the policy,” he said at the event for Young Conservatives entitled “What’s it like behind the scenes at the Home Office”.

Mr Cleverly told Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme: “I was quite surprised because I know James has been quite supportive, both of me personally and of the policy.

“I’ve had a conversation with him and heard the recording and it’s clear that he’s putting forward a very counterintuitive statement to grab the attention.

“If you actually listen to what he then went on to say, he was saying the impact, the effect, is what matters.

“He went on to say the deterrent effect we’ve seen working in Australia, which has an analogous policy.

“He also said when the first flights take off it will send a shockwave, his words, a shockwave across the Channel, sending a very, very clear message to the people smugglers and the people putting themselves in the hands of the people smugglers.

“So, what we’ve seen – he did it clearly for dramatic effect, to grab the attention of the audience, but it’s clear in the recording, (he’s) completely supportive of the deterrent effect of the Rwanda policy.”

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In November, Mr Cleverly faced reports he claimed he had privately described the Rwanda scheme as “batshit”.

Aasked if he ever said that, he told Trevor Phillips: “No. Where I’ve expressed frustration about the policy is, at times, I felt there was a focus on that to the exclusion of everything else.

“The Rwanda policy is important but it’s part of a toolkit of responses to this, including the returns agreements we have, including with Albania, including the creation of a small boats operation command.”

The other candidates standing in Bracknell are:

Olivio Barreto, Independent

Katie Mansfield, Liberal Democrats

Jason Peter Reardon, Heritage Party

Peter Swallow, Labour Party

Emily Torode, Green Party

Malcolm Tullett, Reform UK

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