‘Random’ man who requested Rishi Sunak about Rwanda is definitely Tory councillor

Rishi Sunak has been accused of running scared after it emerged that a seemingly-random man quizzing him at a campaign event was actually a Tory councillor.

The PM spoke to workers at a distribution centre in Derbyshire, the day after announcing a General Election will be held on July 4. During the session – billed by Tory HQ as a “staff Q&A” – he was asked about immigration by a man in an orange high-visibility jacket.

It later transpired that the audience member was Dr Ross Hills, a Conservative councillor on Leicestershire County Council. Journalists and TV viewers were not made aware that Dr Hills is an elected Tory member.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Rishi Sunak spent months dodging the verdict of voters and even now he’s still running scared.”

Rishi Sunak took a question from a man who turned out to be Tory councillor Dr Ross Hills

Rishi Sunak took a question from a man who turned out to be Tory councillor Dr Ross Hills

During the exchange, which the Tories deny was a set-up, Dr Ross asked: “The biggest issue I think is going to be immigration in this General Election campaign. You’ve obviously got your Rwanda plan but is it going to see results and stop the small boats coming?”

The PM responded: “Thank you, you’re right – it is an important question.” He went on to say that the Government wants to “break the cycle” and added: “We’ve got to be clear that if you come here illegally we’re going to detain you and then we’re going to send you somewhere else.”

A Conservative Party source told The Mirror that it wasn’t deliberate. The source claimed: “We do not control who asks questions – anyone can try and ask one.”

Dr Hills has been a Tory councillor since 2021

Dr Hills has been a Tory councillor since 2021

The Mirror has contacted Dr Hills, who is a dentist, for comment. He told The Byline Times: “That was me, yes”. He then told the newspaper that he had been asked to appear at the event.

Dr Hills has represented the Mallory division in Leicestershire since 2021.

Earlier, Mr Sunak was forced to admit that deportation flights carrying asylum seekers to Rwanda will not take off until after the election. The PM made the embarrassing concession on the first day of the election campaign after he gambled his political future on an early election in a surprise move on Wednesday.

As he toured broadcast studios, the Tory leader boasted: “If I’m elected, we will get the flights off.” But pressed on the timing by LBC, he admitted: “No, after the election. The preparation work has already gone on”.

Responding to the PM’s comments, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Prime Minister’s own words this morning show this whole Rwanda scheme has been a con from start to finish.

“With all the hundreds of millions they have spent, it would be extraordinary if ‘symbolic flights’ didn’t take off in early July, as the Tories planned. But Rishi Sunak’s words confirm what we’ve known all along – he doesn’t believe this plan will work and that’s why he called the election now in the desperate hope that he won’t be found out.”