Brits 'endorsed' Rwanda policy through Brexit and 2019 election - former Tory MP

11 June 2022, 12:39 | Updated: 11 June 2022, 12:40

By Tim Dodd

Sir Gerald Howarth has claimed that the British electorate "endorsed" the government's Rwanda refugee plan through the Brexit vote and the 2019 General Election where immigration was a key issue.

It comes as Prince Charles has 'slammed the Government's Rwanda migrant plan' after the first scheduled flight to remove asylum seekers from the UK was given the green light by the High Court.

Shortly after the flight was given the go ahead, Mr Justice Swift granted claimants permission to appeal, suggesting Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday.

Sir Gerald told Matt Frei: "This policy is very much one which is endorsed by the British people... It was endorsed by the people at the referendum in 2016 when we voted to leave the European Union, when immigration was a big issue and control over our borders was a big factor.

"And it was endorsed again at the 2019 election when the Conservative party, under the leadership of Boris Johnson, secured this 80 seat majority."

Matt asked Sir Gerald if he had "pause for thought" as a "God-fearing Tory" over comments about the plans from the Archbishop of Canterbury and Prince Charles.

"Not only am I a church-goer, I'm a church warden. I take these things very seriously. But this is not a one way bet," Sir Gerald replied.

"What about the concerns of the British people? These people who are seeking to come to the United Kingdom by illegal means are already in a safe country like France, or Germany, or Italy, but they are choosing to make a dangerous crossing.

"We are full up in this country... If you look everywhere you go in this country, there are more building sites. There's more land which ought to be used for growing food, which is now being taken up by housing."

Read more: Ukrainian refugees will not be deported to Rwanda, Boris Johnson vows

Matt pointed out that the UK is "not as full up as Rwanda, it's got the highest population density in Africa".

Sir Gerald replied: "Well yes but Africa is a very large country."

"It's a continent, not a country," Matt corrected.

On the comment made by the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Rwanda refugee plan was "ungodly", Sir Gerald said: "I'm a Christian too, and I do not think it's immoral... It is not immoral to say that we are full up in this country!"

Read more: 'No final decision' on plans to open camp for 1,500 migrants in Yorkshire village