Sunak Says U.K. Won’t Send Asylum Seekers to Rwanda Before Election

In calling a general election, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain cast himself this week as a leader with a clear plan. That did not include carrying an umbrella during his remarks in front of 10 Downing Street, where Mr. Sunak was drenched in a spring shower that yielded a flood of snarky headlines.

“Drowning Street,” said the tabloid City A.M. “Drown & out,” cried The Daily Mirror. “Things can only get wetter,” declared The Daily Telegraph.

On Thursday, the first day of the six-week campaign, that dissonance spread from symbolism to substance. Mr. Sunak signaled that his government’s signature political project — putting asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda — would not be set in motion before voters went to the polls on July 4.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr. Sunak cited the Rwanda policy to draw a sharp contrast with the opposition Labour Party, which he accused of having no plan to stop asylum seekers who make hazardous crossings of the English Channel in small boats.

“That’s the choice in this election,” the prime minister said.

But when he was asked if the first deportation flight would now take off after the election, he said yes, adding, “If I’m re-elected.”

During a speech outside 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for a general election to be held on July 4.Credit…Toby Melville/Reuters

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