PM lashes out at ‘condescending’ opponents of Rwanda’s asylum scheme

Boris Johnson has dealt a blow to “leniency” opponents of his plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda ahead of talks with the notorious critic the Prince of Wales.

The prime minister defended the vacillating flagship policy as he prepared to fly to Kigali, where he would meet with Charles for tea discussions.

The heir to the throne is said to have added to the widespread criticism of the project derailed due to legal issues, calling it “terrible” in private comments.

On Thursday, Johnson will join the Prince in the Rwandan capital, where they will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).

Close

Gashora Refugee Camp Transit Center, south of Kigali (Victoria Jones/PA)

But the prime minister plans to avoid visiting housing in Kigali, where unauthorized migrants will be deported.

It is understood that the Prime Minister will visit Charles for tea on Friday morning, but Mr. Johnson is not keen to raise the issue of expulsion of migrants arriving unauthorized on a one-way ticket.

The meeting between Mr Johnson and the Prince will be their first conversation since the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee service and will take place after the ‘terrible’ remark was reported.

Speaking to reporters before flying to Kigali, Johnson said the trip was an opportunity “for all of us to understand what this partnership has to offer.”

“Let’s hope, perhaps, help others get out of their condescending attitude towards Rwanda and how this partnership can work,” he added.

Asked if he would tell the prince that he was wrong, Johnson said: “I have no proof of your claim about the prince’s comments. I cannot confirm this.

“What I can say is that this policy is sensible, measured and is a plan to deal with grotesque violence against innocent people crossing the English Channel.”

Close

Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Russo/PA)

He insisted that he was “very looking forward to meeting” with Charles, but did not say if he would raise the issue with him.

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.

Mr. Johnson noted that he would arrive there before all the asylum seekers, despite the fact that the agreement was signed two months ago.

“I am aware that I arrive before anyone who illegally crossed the English Channel, I cannot hide this fact from you – here it is – but the fact is that neither the British nor the international court has ruled on our plan. illegal,” he said.

But Mr Johnson said he would “no doubt” discuss the plans with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday.

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.

Amnesty International UK Director of Refugee and Migrant Rights Steve Valdez-Symonds said: “The Prime Minister and Home Secretary are effectively supporting the ongoing crackdown on people in Rwanda under President Kagame’s regime with their brutal and illegal refugee scheme.

“No country should shift its asylum responsibilities to another, much less a country like Rwanda with a troubled human rights record alongside existing large-scale asylum obligations.

“The UK should use its influence and the opportunity to host meetings of Commonwealth leaders to encourage meaningful progress on human rights in Rwanda, rather than trying to justify and potentially exacerbate the alarming human rights situation in Rwanda.”

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said he was expected to “raise human rights issues, as he has done in the past.”

“We want Rwanda to uphold and defend Commonwealth values, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. And we want a due process for all those in custody, as well as a fair and transparent application of the rule of law,” he added.

Close

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are already in Rwanda (Arthur Edwards/The Sun)

The Prime Minister’s wife, Carrie Johnson, will join him at the summit and is expected to take part in the program of partner events.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Alok Sharma, president of the Cop26 climate summit, will also be there.

Charles represents the Queen as head of the Commonwealth at a summit normally held every two years but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The prime minister also wants to use the meeting of representatives from 54 countries, mostly former British colonies, to address the food and energy insecurity caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Commonwealth countries are at the forefront of addressing many of these challenges, from climate change to rising food prices,” a spokesman said.

Green economic growth, improving the education of girls and working with the Commonwealth to boost trade and create jobs for British businesses are also among the No. 10 priorities.

Charles represents the Queen as head of the Commonwealth at a summit normally held every two years but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not yet clear what day he will hold talks with Johnson, which are expected to be informal meetings on the sidelines of other events.

Another item on Chogma’s program is the selection of the next general secretary.

Mr Johnson opposes the incumbent, fellow Labor Party Baroness of Scotland, and instead supports Kamina Johnson-Smith of Jamaica.