Rwanda Asylum Critics Don’t Have An Alternative Plan, Ministers Claim

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Patel and Welby (Photo: Getty)
Patel and Welby (Photo: Getty)

Patel and Welby (Photo: Getty)

Ministers have hit back at critics of their controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, claiming they have not provided alternatives.

Energy minister Greg Hands challenged critics of the plan to come up with a better idea to tackle small boat crossings.

It comes after the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said there were “serious ethical questions” about the plan.

While Welby deemed the plans ungodly, his counterpart in York used his Easter sermon to deride the idea as “depressing and distressing”.

Asked if Welby was wrong to call the plan ungodly, Hands told Sky News: “I think what others, the critics of this plan, need to do is to show what their solution would be.”

Hands also denied that the UK was outsourcing its responsibilities, adding: “No, we’re not. This is an agreement between two sovereign countries: the UK and Rwanda.”

In later interviews he described the plan as a “humanitarian move” and said “tough action” was needed.

His words echoed the home secretary Priti Patel who has challenged those against her plan to come up with a better idea.

Writing in The Times with Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta, Patel said her plans were “bold and innovative”.

They said: “We are taking bold and innovative steps and it’s surprising that those institutions that criticise the plans fail to offer their own solutions.”

Earlier, cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg had suggested that the Archbishop of Canterbury had misunderstood the aims of the policy.

Welby said: “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.”

He was joined in his criticism by the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, who said: “We can do better than this.”

Some Tory MPs even took to Twitter to say religious leaders should stay out of politics, suggesting the two archbishops had overstepped the mark.

Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield and former minister Andrew Mitchell said that although he had “enormous sympathy” with the government, the policy was unlikely to achieve its aims.

He said it would likely be “horrendously expensive” and added: “The danger is that we won’t be doing what we have always done since the 16th and 17th century with the Huguenots through the Syrians, under David Cameron, through the Ukrainians now. We won’t have been a beacon in a terrible and difficult world for those fleeing persecution who can always rely upon the Brits – where they are genuinely fleeing persecution – to come to the rescue.”

Patel said she expects other countries to follow the UK’s example, suggesting Denmark could be among those to reproduce the government’s “blueprint”.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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