Boris complains Archbishop 'more critical of Rwanda deal than Putin'

19 April 2022, 22:20

Boris Johnson fired back at Justin Welby over the Rwanda plan
Boris Johnson fired back at Justin Welby over the Rwanda plan. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

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Boris Johnson is said to have accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of being more critical of his Rwanda migrants plan than he was of Vladimir Putin.

Sources close to the Prime Minister say he fired back at Justin Welby after the latter said the asylum plan cannot "stand the judgement of God" on Easter Sunday.

Under a deal with Rwanda, the UK will send asylum seekers there in a bid to stop migrant crossings in the Channel.

The archbishop said that "sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures".

Now, Mr Johnson is said to have criticised "senior members of the clergy" of having "misconstrued the policy", apparently during a private address to Tory MPs in Parliament on Tuesday.

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He said the Archbishop of Canterbury had been "less vociferous" in condemning Putin than he was when he attacked the Rwanda plan.

His comments came as he apologised to MPs over Partygate and his fine from police.

The Rwanda plan was earlier scrutinised by MPs in the Commons as Priti Patel defended the policy.

Former Prime Minister and ex-Home Secretary Theresa May questioned the "legality, practicality and efficacy" of the idea.

Ms Patel said: "There is an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that has been published which spells out in full detail the legalities but also the nature of the agreement.

"I'm not going to come to the floor of the House and speak about the eligibility criteria, because... it is that type of criteria that is used by the smuggling gangs to then effectively exploit various loopholes in our existing laws."

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell also said the idea was "depressing and distressing".

The Home Secretary has called on critics of the plan to come up with their own solution to migrant crisis.

The small boat crossings have seen a series of deaths in the English Channel. Ms Patel has pledged to stop them.

The Rwanda deal would see illegal migrants get sent to the African nation where they would be able to claim asylum.

Flights sending them there could leave from next month, but legal challenges may delay the plan's implementation.