Boris Johnson denies 'slandering' Archbishop of Canterbury over Rwanda scheme

Boris Johnson has denied “slandering” the Archbishop of Canterbury over his comments about the Rwanda deportation scheme.

In a heated Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson dismissed claims he had criticised the religious leader following reports he told MPs the Archbishop had complained more about the government's Rwanda policy than the invasion of Russia.The denial came during a session that saw the Prime Minister caught asking “how many has he had” after being grilled by the Labour leader.

Sir Keir Starmer asked: “Would the Prime Minister like to take this opportunity to apologise for slandering the Archbishop (and the Church of England)?

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“Yesterday’s apology lasted for as long as the Prime Minister thought necessary to be clipped for the news.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday April 20, 2022.
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"Once the cameras were off the Prime Minister went to see his backbenchers and he was back to blaming everyone else.

“He even said that the Archbishop of Canterbury had not been critical enough of Putin.

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"In fact the Archbishop called Putin’s war an act of great evil and the Church of England has led the way in providing refuge to those fleeing.”

Mr Johnson replied: “I was slightly taken aback for the Government to be criticised over the policy that we have devised to end the deaths at sea in the Channel as a result of cruel criminal gangs.

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“I was surprised that we were attacked for that and actually it turns out that that policy – do you know who proposed that policy first of all in 2004, it was David Blunkett who said it was… a 21st century solution to the problems of illegal asylum seeking and immigration.

“He’s a Corbynista in a smart Islington suit, that’s the truth.”

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The session also saw Sir Keir question how the Prime Minister can “claim to be a patriot when he deliberately attacks and degrades the institutions of our great country?”

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A visibly ratted Mr Johnson could be heard saying “how many has he had” before he replied: “It is an indication of the depths to which he’s willing to sink that he accuses me of traducing journalists – what he says is completely without any foundation whatever.

“I did not attack the BBC last night – for their coverage of Ukraine? He must be out of his tiny mind. I said no such thing and there are people behind who will testify to that. He’s completely wrong.

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“That’s the limit of his willingness to ask sensible questions today. This Government is getting on with the serious problems that require attention.”

Mr Johnson said this included energy security, “standing up to Putin” and “fixing our economy”.

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MPs will vote on Thursday on a motion to refer the Prime Minister to the Privileges Committee, highlighting four separate comments about partygate which “appear to amount to misleading the House”.

The motion asks the committee to consider whether Boris Johnson’s conduct “amounted to a contempt of the House”.

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The cross-party motion suggests the committee should not begin considering the matter until the Metropolitan Police inquiry has concluded.



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