Rishi Sunak is rumoured to be eyeing up a July general election to avoid giving his Rwanda deportation “gimmick” the “time to fail”, according to Labour.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Westminster is “awash” with talk about the possibility of a July contest, despite the Prime Minister appearing to favour a date in the autumn.

Rishi Sunak visit to Poland and Germany
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is said to favour a general election in the autumn (Henry Nicholls/PA)

Mr Streeting’s jibe came hours after the parliamentary tussle over the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill came to an end.

The Bill compels judges to regard the east African country as safe in a bid to clear the way to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats on a one-way flight to Rwanda.

But critics believe the deportation scheme introduced by the legislation is unworkable and will have very little impact on the situation.

Cumulative arrivals of people crossing the English Channel in small boats (PA Graphics)

Speaking at health questions, Mr Streeting told the Commons: “Westminster is awash with rumours that the Prime Minister is going to call a July general election, presumably to avoid giving his Rwanda gimmick the time to fail.

“So I have a very simple question for the minister: will he repeat the pledge the Prime Minister made last year and promise that NHS waiting lists will be lower at the time of the general election than when the Prime Minister came to office?”

Conservative leadership bid
Health minister Andrew Stephenson said industrial action was to blame for 1.4 million procedures being rescheduled (Beresford Hodge/PA)

Health minister Andrew Stephenson replied: “The Prime Minister has been very clear that getting waiting lists down is one of his top priorities, but he has also been clear that performance has been disappointing.

“One of the reasons performance has been disappointing is 1.4 million procedures have had to be rescheduled because of industrial action.

People detected crossing (PA Graphics)

“So I would gently ask the shadow minister whether he condemns those strikes.”