Cleverly says aide described Rwanda policy as ‘crap’ for ‘dramatic effect’

James Sunderland, a parliamentary aide to the Home Secretary, was recorded criticising the Rwanda scheme.

James Cleverly has claimed his parliamentary aide was making a “counterintuitive statement” for dramatic effect when he described the Rwanda policy as “crap”.

The Home Secretary said James Sunderland was supportive of the policy and its deterrent effect, but was making a point to grab the attention of his audience.

In a recording passed to the BBC, Mr Sunderland is heard telling a private event his thoughts on the plan to send asylum seekers on a one-way trip to the African country.

Mr Sunderland, who is standing for re-election in Bracknell, said: “The policy is crap, OK? It’s crap.”

According to the BBC, in the recording from a Young Conservatives event in April Mr Sunderland continued by defending the plan and saying it would deter migrants from attempting to cross the Channel.

Saying the “effect of the policy” was what mattered, he added: “There is no doubt at all that when those first flights take off that it will send such a shockwave across the Channel that the gangs will stop.”

Mr Cleverly told Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips that Mr Sunderland was “very supportive” of the policy.

“I’ve had a conversation with him and I’ve also heard the recording. And it’s clear what he’s doing is he’s putting forward a very counterintuitive statement to grab the attention of the audience,” Mr Cleverly said.

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

The Home Secretary added: “He did it clearly for dramatic effect to grab the attention of the audience.

“But he is – and it’s clear in the recording – completely supportive of the deterrent effect that the Rwanda policy has.”

In the recording, Mr Sunderland also criticised colleagues for “courting controversy”, naming then MPs and current Conservative candidates Jonathan Gullis and Brendan Clarke-Smith as those who “polarise opinion”, alongside former Tory Lee Anderson, who switched to Reform in March.

Mr Sunderland told the BBC he was “disappointed” at being recorded at a private event.

He said: “I was talking about the response to the policy. The policy itself is not the be all and end all, but part of a wider response.”

In response to the criticism of colleagues, he said he was answering a question about resignations from party posts by saying “unnecessary rhetoric and division in public life” was unnecessary.

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