Rwanda Bill branded ‘publicity stunt’ as Archbishop of Wales asks UK Government to withdraw it

The Archbishop of Wales has called the UK Government’s Rwanda Bill a “publicity stunt” and has asked for it to be withdrawn.

Archbishop Andrew John told CJS News, he believes the government should focus more on investing into immigration services, instead of sending migrants to Africa.

He said: “The government has actually had some success in the way in which it’s reengaged with the French government, so that the way in which they manage boundaries and our borders in a cooperative way has been,I think, a good step.”

He further added: “The amount of money they’ve invested in staff to help the processing of immigrants, along with better trained border force control, I think has shown that the most effective way of managing immigration is to invest in it rather than aiming for something like a Bill which looks to many of us like a publicity stunt.”

The Archbishop said he is urging Conservative politicians to “vote with conscience” instead of what the party wants them to do.

The Archbishop and the Bishops of the Church in Wales also released a statement regarding this. They said they have “deep concerns” about the safety of people being sent to Rwanda.

They added that whilst they understand increased migration to the UK is a “uniquely painful dilemma”, they believe that migrants face a risk of ill-treatment if they are sent to the nation.

They further said that they don’t agree with migrants being sent to a country where citizens can seek asylum from, and said by sending migrants to Rwanda, the UK Government is “abdicating responsibility”.

This comes following a debate on the Bill in the House of Lords on Monday, in which it faced strong criticism from both the Archbishop of Canterbury and other former politicians from across the political parties in the Lords.

However, despite the criticism, the Bill passed the most recent stage with 206 votes to 84. Although, peers have said they hope to remove key powers from the Bill later on in the process.

Passing the Bill will mean that migrants will be unable to challenge legal decisions regarding their immigration status in the UK, and will instead have their claims processed in Rwanda.

If their claims are successful, they will be granted refugee status and be able to stay in the UK. If they are not, they will be able to settle in Rwanda on other grounds, or seek asylum in another “safe third country”, such as Morocco or Turkey.

However, in November 2023, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Bill was unlawful.

The judges cited safety as the reason for their judgement, saying there was a risk migrants could be sent back to their home countries where they may face harm.

The Bill will now move into the second reading stage where it will be further discussed by peers from the House of Lords.

Feature Image Credit: Archbishop of Wales