Having ignored earthly outrage on Rwanda, perhaps Boris Johnson will listen to God - leader comment

An Easter Sunday intervention on Government policy from the Archbishop of Canterbury is significant, whether you are religious or not.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop Of Canterbury delivers his Easter Sermon at Canterbury Cathedral
Justin Welby, the Archbishop Of Canterbury delivers his Easter Sermon at Canterbury Cathedral

Yesterday, the head of the Church of England told Boris Johnson that the abhorrent plan to send migrants to Rwanda for processing would not stand up to the scrutiny of God.

Justin Welby said “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”.

It followed yet more revelations about how the policy apparently had to be forced through the Home Office, with Home Secretary Priti Patel issuing a rare ministerial direction compelling the plans to go ahead despite the concern of civil servants.

Indeed, quite apart from the moral aspect, we know the Home Office’s most senior civil servant had concerns about the value for money of the scheme.

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Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft warned the Home Secretary in a letter: “I do not believe sufficient evidence can be obtained to demonstrate that the policy will have a deterrent effect significant enough to make the policy value for money.”

So days after being announced, there are questions around the financial viability to add to the mounting outrage.

These plans, announced cynically while parliament was in recess, have also yet to undergo the scrutiny of MPs. That will happen tomorrow when Boris Johnson will no doubt have a busy day also explaining why he should remain in a job having been the first Prime Minister convicted of a crime while in office. We expect a stormy session in Westminster.

All MPs should bear in mind Welby’s words yesterday.

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“The details are for politics. The principle must stand the judgment of God, and it cannot. It cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death. It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong.”

The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have not listened to the chorus of outrage from charities, politicians, the UN, or indeed even their own officials. Perhaps they will listen to God. This policy must be abandoned now.

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