James Cleverly says he can't remember calling Rwanda deportation policy 'batshit'

13 December 2023, 08:27 | Updated: 13 December 2023, 08:30

James Cleverly speaks to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on Wednesday
James Cleverly speaks to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on Wednesday. Picture: LBC/Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

James Cleverly has told LBC he "can't remember" calling the Government's deportation policy "bats***".

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The home secretary was accused of using the word to describe the Rwanda policy by Labour's opposite number, Yvette Cooper, several weeks ago.

He has repeatedly denied using the word, though now suggests he cannot remember using that specific word.

"That's been an accusation. I certainly don't remember," Mr Cleverly told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

After refusing again to say whether he said the word or not, the home secretary went on: "My frustration has always been that I think, sometimes, we have allowed to people to believe Rwanda is the only thing we're doing."

Nick replied: "Okay, did you use bats***?"

Mr Cleverly replied: "I genuinely don't recall using that word."

"Rwanda was never the only thing we were doing," Mr Cleverly added.

Home Secretary 'can't remember' describing Rwanda policy as 'bats***'

It comes after Rishi Sunak survived a rebellion against his Rwanda Bill rebellion from within the Tory party.

Sunak won a crunch vote on the Safety of Rwanda Bill on Tuesday evening after spending the day in talks with potential rebels.

MPs voted to back the Bill, with 313 votes in favour of the legislation and 269 votes against it.

Read More: Rishi sees off Rwanda rebellion but faces New Year showdown - as MPs plot to 'kill' Bill next month

Read More: How did your MP vote on the Rwanda Bill? Full list of results

Right-wing Tory factions have since said they reserve the right to vote against the draft law when it returns to the Commons next year, particularly if amendments are not made to ensure asylum seekers are deported to Rwanda before the next election.

A total of 37 Conservative MPs abstained from voting, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, former immigration minister Robert Jenrick and European Research Group (ERG) Chairman Mark Francois.

UK Home Secretary Visits Rwanda To Revive Migration Scheme With New Treaty
UK Home Secretary Visits Rwanda To Revive Migration Scheme With New Treaty. Picture: Getty

It comes after Mr Francois announced moments ahead of the vote that collectively the ERG could not support the bill due to its ‘many omissions’ and so would be abstaining from the vote.

The Bill will now progress to the next Commons stage in January, when they will debate amendments.

However, Mr Cleverly told LBC there is "very little wiggle room" to change the bill.

The home secretary said the bill operates in a "Goldy Locks" zone, which he says means it is tough enough to deter illegal migrants from entering the UK, while still operating within the confines of the law.

Rwanda flights will 'start in Spring' says Home Secretary

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

Rishi Sunak confirmed a number of Iranian drones attacking Israel were shot down by RAF jets.

RAF jets shot down ‘a number’ of Iranian drones attacking Israel, Rishi Sunak says

A demonstrator waves Iranian and Palestinian flags during an anti-Israeli gathering at the Felestin (Palestine) Square in Tehran, Iran

What is the fallout from Iran’s attack on Israel?

Disability advocate Charlotte Anderson advises people on how to apply for PIP.

YouTuber who fills out PIP applications for £650 each says she has ‘only ever lost one claim in six years’

Planning documents show the owners of the pub want to rebuild it in a new location.

Owners of Crooked House agree to rebuild ‘Britain’s wonkiest pub’ - providing it's in a new location

Joe Biden has reaffirmed the US's commitment to defending Israel's security.

Biden reaffirms ‘ironclad support' of Israel as he plans G7 meeting to coordinate ‘diplomatic response to Iran attack’

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

‘Together we will win’: Netanyahu vows to fight off attacks from Iran after over 300 drones and missiles fired at Israel

Israeli's military have fought off a massive Iranian drone and missile attack - downing more than 200 weapons launched by the hostile state with the help of ace RAF pilots.

Israel fights off massive Iran attack - downing over 200 missiles and drones with help of RAF

Plans have been drawn up for an evacuation of Brits from the Middle East. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (l) and protesters outside the British Embassy in Tehran (r)

Brits living in the Middle East could be rescued by the Royal Marines in 'Dunkirk-style' evacuation

The knifeman who killed six people in a rampage at a Sydney shopping centre has been named as 40-year-old Joel Cauchi (left)

Pictured: Sydney knifeman, 40, who killed six people before being shot dead by brave policewoman

Iranian drones and missiles have arrived in Israel with explosions in the skies - as officials warn of a "significant response" to the massive attack.

Explosions in skies and sirens across Jerusalem amid Iranian attack - as Israel warns of 'significant response'

USS Bataan which is heading to the Eastern Mediterranean (main) and Joe Biden (r)

US sends amphibious warship and 2,500 Marines into the Eastern Mediterranean after Iran attacks Israel

US and UK forces are helping defend Israel from Iranian drones and missiles after a massive attack was launched.

British and American jets 'shoot down Iranian drones' as Rishi Sunak slams Iran for 'reckless' attack against Israel

President Biden is holding an emergency national security meeting as the US prepares its response to Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel.

President Biden holds high-stakes emergency meeting as Iran launches full-scale attack on Israel

Iron Dome Rocket Interceptions of Hamas Rockets- Southern Israel- Night Attack On Ashdod City

Israel closes airspace as it braces for Iranian drone attack

Iranian attack drones are 'en route to Israel', according to an Israeli Defence Force spokesperson.

Iran launches massive drone and missile attack on Israel as war in Middle East escalates