The Archbishop of Canterbury misunderstood the aims of the government’s plans to send migrants to Rwanda when he criticized the new policy, a Cabinet minister has said.
Plans announced by ministers this week have been deemed ungodly by religious leaders, with Justin Welby saying sending migrants to the African country would not stand up to the Lord’s scrutiny.
In his Easter sermon, the Archbishop said that “outsourcing our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is contrary to the nature of God who himself took the responsibility for our failures”.
But Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Church of England’s top cleric was wrong.
Speaking on Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, he said: “I think he misunderstands what politics is trying to achieve, and that’s not an abdication of responsibility, it’s makes it a very difficult assumption of responsibility.
“The issue that is being addressed is that people are risking their lives at the hands of human traffickers to enter this country illegally. Now, it’s not the illegal part, it’s the encouragement of human traffickers that needs to be stopped.
He said that “90% of the people who come are young men who, passing through human traffickers, skip the queue for others”.
Mr Rees-Mogg added: ‘They are doing it not just by risking their lives, but by supporting organized crime. What we need to do is focus on the legal pathways into this country, of which there are many. »
It comes as an exchange of letters released by the Home Office on Saturday night showed the department’s permanent secretary, Matthew Rycroft, warning Home Secretary Priti Patel that although the policy is ” regular, appropriate and feasible”, there was “uncertainty surrounding the value for money of the proposal”.
But issuing a rare ministerial instruction compelling plans to go ahead despite concern, Ms Patel said ‘without action the costs will continue to rise, lives will continue to be lost’.
Under plans, which the government says will limit migrant crossings of the Channel in small boats, people deemed to have entered Britain by illegal means since January 1 can be sent to Rwanda, where they will be allowed to seek asylum in the African country.
But Mr Welby said there were “serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas”.
He said: “Details are for politics. The principle must bear the judgment of God, and it cannot. She cannot bear the weight of the righteousness of resurrection, of life victorious over death. He cannot bear the weight of the resurrection which was at first least appreciated, because he privileges the rich and the strong.
He was joined in his criticism by Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, who used his Easter Sunday sermon at York Minster to describe the policy as “depressing and distressing”.
He said: “We can do better than that. We can do better than that because of what we see in Jesus Christ, the risen Christ, with a vision for our humanity where barriers are broken down, not new obstacles put in the way.
“After all, there are no illegal asylum seekers in the law. It is the people who exploit them that we must repress, not our sisters and brothers in need. We don’t need to build more barriers and cower in the darkness of the shadows they create
“Do we want to continue to be known as a country that opens appropriate and legitimate avenues for all those fleeing violence, conflict and oppression, not just those coming from Ukraine, but also those fleeing other conflicts and the effects of climate change?
However, Mr Rees-Mogg suggested the plans could also be an opportunity for Rwanda.
He said, “What is being done is to provide an opportunity for Rwanda, because that will provide Rwanda, a country that needs support and has gone through terrible turmoil…and Rwandan history is almost a history of Easter redemption, right?
“From a country that suffered the most appalling and horrific genocide and is now recovering and so for the UK to support it must be a good thing.
“It helps people take legitimate paths and I think the purpose of politics – within Christianity, intent is always very important – and the intent of government is to do good.”
The Home Office insisted the UK has a ‘proud history’ of supporting people in need and that Rwanda is a ‘fundamentally safe and secure country with a history of supporting asylum seekers. asylum”.
The policy has enjoyed some support from Tory MPs, who say the issue of small boats crossing the Channel is high on voters’ priority list.
However, the Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield and former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell said although he has “enormous sympathy” for the government, the policy is unlikely to achieve its aims.
He said: “What worries me with the Rwandan policy is that it will not achieve what they are looking for, it is also likely to be horribly expensive, and we have to be very careful at this time to taxpayers’ money.”
He added: ‘The public is right that we don’t want irresponsible benefit seekers posing as economic migrants trying to come to our country illegally and without permission and of course we all support that. .
“And if they are processed here and it turns out that they do not have an asylum application, then by all means send them to a third country which will welcome them.
“But the danger is that we won’t do what we have always done since the 16th and 17th century with the Huguenots through the Syrians, as I said, under David Cameron, through the Ukrainians now. We will not have been a beacon in a terrible and difficult world for those fleeing persecution and who can always count on the British – where they truly flee persecution – to come to the rescue.
Ms Patel said she expected other countries to follow the UK’s lead, suggesting Denmark could be among those replicating the government’s ‘master plan’, while the Department of Health Interior has insisted its approach does not violate refugee agreements.