Boris Johnson said he would highlight the “obvious merits” of his asylum policy in Rwanda to the Prince of Wales when they held talks in Kigali after Charles reported criticism.
The prime minister has lashed out at “lenient” opponents of plans to forcibly relocate migrants to the East African country, a policy the prince is said to have called “terrible”.
He was ready to defend the faltering policy on Friday when Charles hosted him for tea talks in the Rwandan capital, where they are attending a Commonwealth summit.
Mr. Johnson and Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the policy was “fighting dangerous smuggling gangs” during discussions, according to No. 10.
This is despite there being no flights in the two months since the signing of the £120m deal with Rwanda as the plans run into legal trouble.
The conversation between the prime minister and Charles will be their first, as the prince has been reported to have called the policy “terrible” in private remarks.
Mr Johnson said he was “delighted that Prince Charles and everyone is here today to see a country that has undergone a complete or very significant transformation.”
During an interview with broadcasters at a school in Kigali, the prime minister said he would defend the policy of the heir to the throne.
“People should be open-minded about politics, critics should be open-minded about politics. Many people can see its obvious merits. So yes, of course, if I see the prince tomorrow, I will highlight it,” Johnson said.
Speaking to reporters before flying to Rwanda, Johnson said the trip was an opportunity “for all of us to understand what this partnership has to offer.”
“Hopefully, perhaps, help others to get rid of their condescending attitude towards Rwanda and how this partnership can work,” he added.
Although this was Mr. Johnson’s first visit to the country during his tenure at No. 10, he does not plan to visit any of the accommodations designated for the scheme.
“You should know that the prime minister’s time is always limited and to find time for that, he would have to abandon elements of a program whereby he works with a unique group of world leaders on very important issues,” his spokesman said.
“We believe that the best use of his time during this short period when he is in Rwanda is to dedicate himself to some of the issues that will be raised at the summit and work with other world leaders on some of the issues that we have been talking about. . , not least Ukraine and global security”.
The first flight carrying people to Rwanda was due to take off last week, but it was based on successful legal battles ahead of a full hearing on the scheme’s legality in British courts.
The policy is one element of a £120 million economic deal with Kigali, but it has been widely criticized in part due to concerns about the human rights situation in Rwanda.
Following Thursday’s talks, Mr Johnson said Mr Kagame cares “passionately” about politics as he was a refugee in neighboring Uganda prior to his eventual rise to power.
“He knows what it’s like. He sees the problem of vulnerable people being trafficked across the English Channel and trafficked all over the world,” Mr Johnson said.
Despite the fact that the policy was actually substantiated before its legality was decided in the UK courts, the couple said it was already in the works.
Representative No. 10 said: “Leaders also praised the successful UK-Rwanda partnership on migration and economic development that is fighting dangerous smuggling gangs while offering people the chance to build a new life in a safe country.”
Mr. Kagame has been praised for his role in ending the 1994 genocide, when ethnic Hutu extremists killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during a 100-day civil war.
But since then, his regime has been accused of political repression, alleged assassinations and imprisonment of critics.