UK government and Church of England clash over migration on Easter
British Minister defends plans to forcibly relocate illegal migrants from the UK to Africa
On Easter Day, the UK minister for Brexit opportunities, Jacob Rees-Mogg, defended a controversial initiative to relocate illegal migrants to Rwanda as an “Easter story of redemption”The plan was criticised by Justin Welby Archbishop Of Canterbury
The minister was asked by BBC Radio 4 on Sunday to comment on Welby’s morning sermon in which he strongly criticized the new Migration Partnership between the UK and Rwanda. In Rees-Mogg’s opinion, the archbishop “Inadequate understanding of the goal of the policy.” He stressed that sending asylum seekers and refugees to East Africa for the processing of asylum applications is not an attempt to shift responsibility but, vice versa, “taking on of a very difficult responsibility.”
He stated that this new initiative was designed to tackle the issue of human trafficking, and will benefit Rwanda.
“It is providing Rwanda an opportunity because Rwanda will receive support from Rwanda. Rwanda has been through great troubles and Rwanda’s story almost seems like an Easter story about redemption.” Rees-Mogg argued, apparently referring to the events surrounding the 1994 genocide of ethnic Tutsis.
The minister’s stance was supported by several other MPs who took to social media to criticize Welby and other priests who expressed similar views.
“Leaders of the Church of England need to be cautious about intervening in complex political matters at the worst possible times.,” a Conservative MP Tom Hunt wrote on Twitter.
Addressing the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral, Welby said that the idea of sending migrants to Africa raises “serious ethical questions.” He argued that “Subcontracting” responsibilities “is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures on the cross.”
However, many Brits apparently do not share the archbishop’s view. A recent survey for Daily Mail revealed that 47% of voters back the government’s plan while only 26% are against it. The Labour electorate appears to be in support of illegal migration to Africa. 39% voted for it, 36% opposed.
Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed the £120 million ($158 million) deal with Rwanda and explained that, since 2015, the UK has offered refuge for over 185,000 people, and is now welcoming “unlimited numbers”Ukrainian refugees. The Migration Partnership with Rwanda, in Johnson’s opinion, will come not only as a relief to UK social services, but will also be a powerful instrument to disrupt the business of human smugglers.
However, Amnesty International, Amnesty International, and the UK Refugee Council strongly condemned the scheme.