Archbishop of Canterbury wades into Rwanda migrants row AGAIN: Justin Welby brands deportation policy ‘heartless’… just days after ‘ministers considered booting bishops out of the House of Lords’
- Archbishop hits back after Priti Patel branded Rwanda plan critics ‘racist’
- Justin Welby said disapproval ‘is not because the destination is Rwanda’
- Spiritual leader added: ‘We’ll continue to call for more humane migrant system’
The Archbishop of Canterbury again slammed the Government’s Rwanda migrants plan, branding the policy ‘heartless’.
Justin Welby branded the plan ‘heartless’ in a trio of new provocative tweets this evening
Justin Welby hit back at the Home Secretary after she accused the plan’s critics of ‘inbuilt prejudice and racism’.
In a trio of fiery tweets sent this evening, Mr Welby said the Church of England’s opposition to the offshore processing plan ‘is not because the destination is Rwanda’.
He wrote: ‘We would oppose such heartless treatment wherever people were sent.
‘We oppose this policy because it outsources our responsibilities, and treats vulnerable and traumatised people without any kind of dignity, compassion or justice.
‘This is not how God calls us to treat each other.’
In a third tweet, Archbishop Welby added: ‘We’ll continue to call for a humane and effective immigration system, and to offer our support to national and local government to deliver it.
‘And in parishes we’ll continue to help local communities receive asylum seekers and others arriving from overseas.’
The Home Office Boeing 767 sat at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire on June 14, but did not take off
Welby earlier slammed the policy as ‘the opposite of the nature of God’ in a punchy Easter address two months ago.
Ms Patel told The Telegraph today that the first flight’s grounding last week was ‘scandalous’ – and a reason to quit the ECHR.
She also said: ‘If it was France, if we were sending people to Sweden, New York, Sydney, would they [the critics] change their mind? That actually speaks of inbuilt prejudice and I would even go as far as to say, racism.’
Government sources reportedly threatened to try and boot Church of England leaders out of the House of Lords in response to their opposition to the plan.
It was reported that Cabinet ministers were openly talking about expelling the 26 bishops from the House of Lords – with one noting that Iran is the only other country to have religious leaders sitting in their parliament.
Yet Number Ten swiftly denied this, with Boris Johnson’s press secretary stating: ‘There are no plans to do that.’
Under an agreement struck with Kigali in April, Home Secretary Priti Patel plans to send migrants who enter Britain illegally thousands of miles away to have their asylum claims processed.
Her scheme has yet to get up and running after the European Court of Human Rights blocked a first flight to Rwanda last week.
Church of England archbishops and bishops sit in the House of Lords as the Lords Spiritual.
In their letter this week, published in The Times, the 25 current members of the Lords Spiritual claimed the Rwanda policy ‘should shame us as a nation’.
‘The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries,’ they wrote.
‘Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain.
‘They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.’
Their letter added: ‘We cannot offer asylum to everyone, but we must not outsource our ethical responsibilities, or discard international law — which protects the right to claim asylum.
‘We must end the evil trafficking; many churches are involved in fighting it. This needs global co-operation across every level of society.
‘To reduce dangerous journeys to the UK we need safe routes: the church will continue to advocate for them.
‘But deportations — and the potential forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries — are not the way. This immoral policy shames Britain.’