London politics latest LIVE: Boris Johnson rejects calls to apologise to Archbishop of Canterbury over Rwanda plan

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·8-min read
London politics latest LIVE: Boris Johnson rejects calls to apologise to Archbishop of Canterbury over Rwanda plan
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Boris Johnson has refused to apologise to Justin Welby during Prime Minister’s Questions after he was reported to have hit out at the Archbishop of Canterbury over his criticism of the Government’s Rwanda migrant plan.

In a speech to Conservative backbenchers on Tuesday night, the Prime Minister said both the BBC and the Archbishop were “less vociferous” in their criticism of the Russian leader than the government over the controversial refugee proposal, reported the Telegraph.

Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday accused Mr Johnson of “slandering decent people in a private room, let the slander spread, without the backbone to repeat it in public”.

“Would the PM like to take this opportunity to apologise for slandering the Archbishop and the Church of England?

“How can the PM claim to be a patriot when he deliberately attacks and degrades the institutions of our great country?”

Mr Johnson however said he did not attack the BBC. He did not mention the Archbishop.

“It is in an indication of the depths to which he is 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.”

PMQs begins

12:09 , Bill Mcloughlin

Prime Minister’s Questions begins with Boris Johnson saying he will visit India.

Sir Keir Starmer then poses his first question, where he asks why his former press Secretary had to resign from her job.

In response, Mr Johnson said “he bitterly regrets Allegra’s decision” and that it was “very sad” that she had stood down.

He then praised for helping to delivering the UN Climate Change Summit last year.

‘He’s in some sort of Doctor Who time machine,’ says PM

12:11 , Bill Mcloughlin

The leader of the Opposition then asks: “Why does the Prime Minister think everyone else’s actions have consequences except his own?”

“I think he is in some sort of Doctor Who time machine,” the Prime Minister says in response.

He then repeats his apology to the public and said the Government will power on to fix issues across the UK.

Keir Starmer: Does the Prime Minister accept that he broke the law?

12:15 , Bill Mcloughlin

Sir Keir then asks if the Prime Minister accepts that he broke the law after receiving a fine from the police.

The Prime Minister says the country wants to ”get on with what we set out to do”.

He adds that Labour “has no plans” for energy.

The Speaker of the House then interrupts the Prime Minister’s response.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (PA)

‘He’s a Corbynista in a smart Islington suit’ says PM

12:20 , Bill Mcloughlin

Sir Keir then referenced the Prime Minister’s comments regarding the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He asks if the Prime Minister would like to apologise for his criticism of Justin Welby who was spoke out against the Rwanda immigration deal.

Mr Johnson then claims David Blunkett first proposed the policy in 2004.

Concluding his remark, he said Sir Keir was a “Corbynista in a smart Islington suit”.

Keir Starmer: Will the PM apologise to the BBC journalists?

12:24 , Bill Mcloughlin

The Prime Minister said he admires journalists and questions whether Sir Keir should withdraw his remark as it has “no basis”.

Sir Keir then adds the Prime Minister “deliberately attacks and degrades the institutions of our great country”.

The Prime Minister then says Sir Keir is wrong and that Mr Johnson did not attack the BBC for its coverage of Ukraine.

Mr Johnson says the leader of the Opposition must be out his “tiny mind” to think so.

Ian Blackford: The public aren’t easily fooled

12:29 , Bill Mcloughlin

The SNP leader at Westminster said 82 per cent of people believe the Prime Minister lied.

Mr Johnson said he gave an explanation and apology on Tuesday.

He asks: “Isn’t time for him to accept the publci can’t afford to keep him in power for any longer?”

Mr Johnson said the SNP would not be calling for his resignation if he were a “liability” as they claim.

Boris Johnson (Sky News)
Boris Johnson (Sky News)

Plaid Cymru: Is it time for a lying in Parliament bill?

12:30 , Bill Mcloughlin

Liz Saville Roberts, the Plaid Cymru leader at Westminster asks if a bill should be introduced to ban lying in Parliament.

Mr Johnson responds that all ministers adhere to telling the truth in the Commons.

Robert Jenrick asks if videos of POWs have breached the Geneva convention

12:33 , Bill Mcloughlin

After a video emerged of a captured UK national in Ukraine, the former Cabinet minister asks the Prime Minister if more should be done to clamp down on online platforms.

Mr Johnson says Russia must treat captured prisoners of war humanely.

Robert Buckland: Will the PM hold Russia to account?

12:49 , Bill Mcloughlin

Sir Robert Buckland reads a message about the impact of the invasion on Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said the savagery of Russian forces knows no limits.

Another is asked regarding profiteering during the pandemic.

Mr Johnson said some people have made money since the virus broke out and that the Government deplores whoever does.

PMQs concludes

12:54 , Bill Mcloughlin

Labour MP Rupa Huq, aks he Mr Johnson agrees with an article he wrote in The Daily Telegraph in 2011.

In response, Mr Johnson said he is “glad” she reads the paper and should read to the end of the article.

PM did not attack BBC coverage of Ukraine conflict, says his press secretary

13:20 , Elly Blake

Boris Johnson’s press secretary said it was “completely incorrect” to say he had criticised the BBC’s coverage of the Ukraine conflict.

“Broadly, you wouldn’t expect me to comment on reported remarks from a private meeting,” she told reporters during a briefing after Prime Minister’s Questions.

“But, as the PM just made clear, he did not attack the BBC for their coverage of Ukraine – this is deeply misleading.

“He has the highest admiration for what journalists are doing – in fact you will have seen him publicly praise their bravery out in Ukraine.

“I think the more general point is there have been examples of coverage that don’t properly differentiate between those (migrants) who are arriving in the UK via safe legal routes and those who are arriving via illegal, dangerous and unnecessary routes.”

Government ‘surprised’ over criticism of its Rwanda plan

13:30 , Elly Blake

The Government was “surprised” to encounter criticism of its Rwanda migrant transfer policy, Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary, asked whether Boris Johnson thought the church leaders had a “duty” to speak out against policies they object to, said: “I think it is for everyone to have their own opinions.

“It is for the Government, as the Prime Minister set out today, to explain why we are doing the policies we are doing.

“As he said just then, he was surprised to be criticised for a policy that is designed to protect.”

She concurred when asked whether the relationship between No 10 and Lambeth Palace was “good” but did not know when the Prime Minister last met with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with the Archbishop of Canterbury (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with the Archbishop of Canterbury (PA)

Tory MP urges Boris Johnson to consider appointing a ‘minister for men’

13:35 , Elly Blake

A Conservative MP has urged Boris Johnson to discuss with him the merits of having a “minister for men”.

Nick Fletcher, who represents the Don Valley constituency, raised the issue of men dying “so much younger than they should” during Prime Minister’s questions.

Mr Fletcher, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys, also urged Mr Johnson to look into the “benefits” of a Men’s Health Strategy.

The Prime Minister said he is “determined to tackle all the health conditions” described by Mr Fletcher, including “mental health and suicide prevention”.

Mr Fletcher said: “PMQs for a constituency MP like me is a wonderful opportunity to ask the Prime Minister for a new hospital for Doncaster, maybe. And maybe, for Doncaster to be the home of Great British Railways Headquarters.

“Sadly, there is a more pressing issue and that is that men are dying so much younger than they should. So, will the Prime Minister meet with me to discuss the merits of having a minister for men and the benefits of a Men’s Health Strategy?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I thank my honourable friend very much for his work in this area. And we are determined to tackle all the health conditions that he has described and cares about, particularly mental health and suicide prevention.”

Lambeth Palace says senior church members ‘gravely concerned’ over Rwanda policy

13:47 , Elly Blake

Two of the church’s most senior clergymen are “gravely concerned” over government plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, Lambeth Palace has said.

Both the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell criticised the policy in Easter sermons over the weekend.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Lambeth Palace reinforced: “Both Archbishops, along with many other faith leaders, are gravely concerned by proposals to send migrants overseas.

“They will continue to speak out against these plans on moral and ethical grounds.”

It comes after Boris Johnson allegedly accused Justin Welby of having “misconstrued” the policy.

Sources close to the prime minister said he accused the Archbishop of being “less vociferous” in his condemnation ofVladimir Putin than he was in his attack on the scheme.

However, a Lambeth Palace spokesman said clergy have repeatedly spoken out about Russia’s acts “of great evil” in Ukraine.

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