Fri. Apr 19th, 2024
alert-–-justin-welby-signals-he-won’t-continue-to-block-rishi-sunak’s-rwanda-bill-in-the-house-of-lords-–-but-archbishop-of-canterbury-claims-he-would-still-be-furious-about-the-plans-even-if-migrants-were-being-deported-to-sweden-and-not-africaAlert – Justin Welby signals he won’t continue to block Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Bill in the House of Lords – but Archbishop of Canterbury claims he would still be furious about the plans even if migrants were being deported to Sweden and not Africa

The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled he will drop his opposition to Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Bill in the House of Lords if MPs continue to reject peers’ changes.

Justin Welby has been a fierce critic of the Prime Minister’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Africa, but suggested he would back down over the new legislation.

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is currently stuck in ‘ping pong’ between the Lords and Commons with MPs and peers at loggerheads.

The Lords last week inflicted a slew of fresh defeats on the Government over the flagship legislation, as they attempt to amend it to include a series of safeguards.

MPs are expected to once again remove peers’ changes to the Bill when they return from their Easter break, at which point Mr Welby suggested the Lords could accept defeat.

But the Archbishop vowed he would continue to be opposed to the Rwanda plan ‘morally’ and said he would still be critical of the scheme even if migrants were being sent to Sweden and not the African country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled he will drop his opposition to Rishi Sunak 's Rwanda Bill in the House of Lords if MPs continue to reject peers' changes

The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled he will drop his opposition to Rishi Sunak ‘s Rwanda Bill in the House of Lords if MPs continue to reject peers’ changes

Home Secretary James Cleverly and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta pictured in Kigali in December

Home Secretary James Cleverly and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta pictured in Kigali in December

An inflatable dinghy carrying around 65 people is pictured crossing the English Channel earlier this month

An inflatable dinghy carrying around 65 people is pictured crossing the English Channel earlier this month

According to provisional Home Office figures, 338 people arrived in seven boats on Tuesday, taking the total for the year to date to 4,644

According to provisional Home Office figures, 338 people arrived in seven boats on Tuesday, taking the total for the year to date to 4,644

Mr Sunak is under increasing pressure to deliver on his Rwanda plans as part of his pledge to ‘stop the boats’ amid the Channel migrant crisis.

The number of migrants who have arrived in the UK so far in 2024 after crossing the Channel has reached a new record high for the first three months of a calendar year. 

According to provisional Home Office figures, 338 people arrived in seven boats on Tuesday, taking the total for the year to date to 4,644.

This exceeds the previous record high figure of 4,548 for January to March 2022 and had already surpassed the 3,793 arrivals in the first quarter of last year.

Mr Sunak promised ’emergency legislation’ to overcome last year’s Supreme Court ruling that his Rwanda scheme is unlawful.

But his Rwanda Bill is now set to enter a fifth month of being considered by Parliament.

Speaking to LBC’s Full Disclosure podcast with James O’Brien, Mr Welby reiterated why he opposed the migrant deportation scheme.

Yet he suggested both he and fellow members of the Lords would eventually allow the Bill to pass.

‘I think it has got ping pong, which means when the Commons and the Lords try and work out a common view,’ the Archbishop said.

‘The Commons is the senior house, and quite rightly, the Lords exists, and the bishops are in the Lords and stick to the rules.

‘The Lords exists to ask questions, to refine, to suggest better ways of doing things. 

He added: ‘And there’s an incredible amount of expertise there and the debates are often absolutely fascinating. They’re not loud and chatty. They are normally measured and thoughtful.

‘And in the end, on the Rwanda Bill, the Lords will say, okay, we’ve made our case, you don’t accept it and that’s the end of it.’

But insisting he would continue to ‘morally’ oppose the Rwanda scheme, Mr Welby continued: ‘My arguments with Rwanda have got nothing to do with it being Rwanda.

‘If it was Sweden, I’d have the same problem.’

The Archbishop acknowledged there was a need to ‘control immigration’ and ‘deal with the immense evil of people trafficking’, which he described as ‘loathsome and vile’.

Mr Welby called for a global system for dealing with the increasing challenge of migration.

‘It’s not what we’ve got to do that we disagree with. It’s how you do it,’ he said.

‘I don’t want open borders. We can’t. The Americans aren’t big enough to have open borders. Europe isn’t. It’s too big for any one country.

‘And so what we’ve been arguing, many people in the Lords arguing, is we need a better system that shares out this burden in a way that is fair to the countries that get the most refugees.

’72 per cent of refugees end up in the country next to the one they come from, which is almost certainly going to be really poor. Now it’s fine they stay there, if the country can manage it.

‘How do we make sure that country has the resources to do that in a way that enables the people to go home, or to build new lives, rather than having to travel at great risk halfway around the world?’