Ex-Tory Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe challenged Justin Welby over remarks made in the Archbishop’s sermon at Canterbury Cathedral. Ms Widdecombe, who joined Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party after spending 23-years in the House of Commons as the Conservative MP for Maidstone, shared with LBC her thoughts on the Archbishop’s intervention.
The Archbishop had said the £120million scheme, which will people who are deemed to have entered the UK by unlawful means since January 1 be sent to Rwanda, had raised “serious ethical questions” and even contradicted Christian values.
Ms Widdecombe, who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1993, said: “Well, if you want to think of something ungodly, it is the people trafficking that is quite ruthlessly going on.
“And I think putting an end to that is not ungodly, and a policy that says ‘look, if you think you can come to the UK without a valid asylum claim, for economic reasons when you’re already in safe countries like France or Italy or wherever it might be – you can’t, and this is what is going to happen.
“I think that the deterrent effect will be massive. I think the only problem, maybe Iain, and we’ll have to see – because this policy is going to apply to men, there may be an increased emphasis from the people-traffickers on women and children.”
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The announcement made by Boris Johnson last week comes after a record-breaking 28,395 migrants reached British shores after making the perilous 21-mile journey from Calais in 2021.
Allies of Mr Johnson, many of whom are also Christian, lashed out at the Archbishop for his comments.
Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, a practising Catholic, told Radio 4: “I think he misunderstands what the policy is trying to achieve, and that it isn’t an abandonment of responsibility, it is in fact a taking on of a very difficult responsibility.”
The North East Somerset MP added: “The problem that is being dealt with is that people are risking their lives in the hands of people traffickers, to get into this country illegally.
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Mr Streeting’s comment comes after human rights groups, other opposition MPs and the United Nations slammed the plan.
Gillian Triggs, assistant secretary-general at the UN refugee agency, said the scheme was an “egregious breach of international and refugee law”.
It has even been revealed Ms Patel had to personally approve the £120million scheme after officials inside the Home Office voiced concern about the cost of the Rwanda deal.