Bishop of Birmingham joins criticism of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda

The first flight to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda is due to take off no matter how few people are on board, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has indicated

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has defended the British government’s policy to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda in the face of huge criticism.

The first flight will take off no matter how few people are on board, she has indicated while defending the policy as “completely moral”.

Liz Truss was unable to say how many individuals would be on the plane on today (Tuesday June 14) as she insisted the scheme is both legal and “value for money”.

The Church of England Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart has signed a letter from the archbishops of Canterbury and York who have added to vehement criticism from opposition parties, describing the plan as “immoral” and saying that it “shames Britain”.

Bishop of Birmingham David UrquhartBishop of Birmingham David Urquhart
Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart

But Ms Truss struck back, telling them to come up with their own policy, amid suggestions the first flight could contain as few as seven people.

“We are expecting to send the flight later today,” she said.

“I can’t say exactly how many people will be on the flight but the really important thing is we establish the principle and we start to break the business model of these appalling people traffickers who are trading in misery.”

Asked if there could be no one on this flight, she said: “There will be people on the flight and if they are not on this flight they will be on the next flight.”

Pressed if it could be just seven individuals, she said: “I don’t have a figure.

“The important point is the principle.”

Protesters chant and hold placards against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda (Photo: Getty Images)Protesters chant and hold placards against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda (Photo: Getty Images)
Protesters chant and hold placards against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda (Photo: Getty Images)

Care4Calais, one of the charities that brought the defeated legal appeal to halt the flight, said that just seven migrants expecting to be removed still had live tickets.

And three further challenges brought by individuals who face removal are expected to be heard at the High Court on Tuesday.

Ms Truss did not deny an estimate that a charter flight could cost £250,000, instead saying she “can’t put a figure” on the expense.

She stressed instead that ministers must “reduce the cost over time of illegal immigration” as they struggle to tackle small boat crossings of the English Channel.

“It is value for money,” she insisted to Sky.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said the policy “should shame us as a nation”.

“This immoral policy shames Britain,” they said in a letter to the Times, which was also signed by the bishops of London, Durham, Exeter, and Manchester - along with the Bishop of Birmingham

Ms Truss told Sky: “I don’t agree with that, the people who are immoral in this case are the people traffickers trading in human misery.

“Those people need to suggest an alternative policy that will work.

“Our policy is completely legal, it’s completely moral.”

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