Question Time: Policing minister Chris Philp appears to confuse Congo and Rwanda

Policing minister Chris Philp appeared to confuse the countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Question Time.

Responding to an audience member’s question during the BBC One programme, the MP for Croydon South seemed to ask whether “Rwanda is a different country to Congo”.

The audience member, who said he came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, asked: “Had my family members come from Goma (a city on the country’s border) on a crossing right now, would they then be sent back to the country they are supposedly warring – Rwanda?

“Does that make any sense to you?”

Mr Philp replied: “No, I think there’s an exclusion on people from Rwanda being sent to Rwanda.”

After the audience member objected that his parents were “not from Rwanda”, the Conservative MP appeared to ask: “Well, I mean, Rwanda is a different country to Congo isn’t it?

“It’s a different country?”

The comment caused a short outburst of laughter from some members of the debate programme’s audience as shadow health secretary Wes Streeting’s eyes darted around the room.

Mr Philp continued: “There is a clause in the legislation that says if somebody would suffer, I think the phrase is ‘serious and irreversible harm’ by being sent somewhere, they wouldn’t be sent.

“So there is that safety mechanism built into the legislation.”

There has been a long history of violent conflict between the neighbouring African countries.

The Rwanda Bill became law on Thursday after being granted royal assent, paving the way for deportation flights to get off the ground.