Search icon


17th Apr 2022

Archbishop of Canterbury blasts Boris Johnson over Rwanda asylum plans

Danny Jones

Archbishop slams Rwanda asylum plans

‘The principle must stand the judgment of God, and it cannot’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has slammed Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party over their Rwanda asylum plans, labelling them ungodly and an attempt to shift “our responsibilities” onto another.

Speaking at his annual sermon on Easter Sunday, the Archbishop said that while “The details are for politics and politicians, the principle must stand the judgment of God, and it cannot.”

Under the Tories’ new £120 pilot scheme – which could be rolled as early as May – those seeking asylum in the UK will be offered a one-way ticket to Rwanda, where they can then apply for resettlement in the UK or, if they are rejected by the Rwandan government, will be deported.

Welby went on to say that the government’s Rwanda asylum plans “cannot carry the weight of our national responsibility as a country formed by Christian values, because 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.”

Conservative MPs are thought to have broadly backed the plans but the noise around the proposal is evident, with Priti Patel reportedly using “ministerial direction” to push through the bill despite concerns from her civil servants.

The controversial policy’s perception is problematicm that it has even been endorsed by Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate, who said that although it could work, there are “more efficient” alternatives.

Nevertheless, the PM insists will save countless lives from human trafficking while providing “safe and legal routes for asylum seekers while disrupting the business model of people smugglers”.

While the Home Office has defended the decision – stating that the UK has a “proud history of supporting those in need of protection and resettlement programmes” and adding that is is a matter of “capacity”, not “compassion” – humanitarian groups think otherwise.

Human Rights Watch have labelled the move not only as “cruelty itself”, but inneffective, adding that “severe abuses” of similar systems have been seen in regions such as Australia and that the nation’s human rights record directly puts those attempting to secure their own safety and refugee status in danger.

Related links