Saturday 30 March 2024

Justin Welby says he will not block Rwanda Bill as he concedes 'open borders' are not the answer

Justin Welby says he will not block Rwanda Bill as he concedes 'open  borders' are not the answer

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has indicated that the Church will not block Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda Bill.

Welby said he accepted that the Commons was the "senior house" and that he would not oppose the Bill if MPs rejected the Lords amendments next month. 

However, he acknowledged that he was still morally opposed to the Bill, if not legislatively.

MPs are expected to reject this second round of amendments by the Lords and send the Bill back to the Upper House to be ratified.

Speaking on LBC’s Full Disclosure podcast, The Most Rev Justin Welby said: "In the end, on the Rwanda Bill, the Lords will say, OK, we’ve made our case, you don’t accept it and that’s the end of it.

“My arguments with Rwanda have got nothing to do with it being Rwanda. If it was Sweden, I’d have the same problem."

Despite the fact the Bill was not a manifesto pledge, parliamentary convention dictates that the Lords does not block legislation backed by the democratically elected lower chamber.

The Bill is currently in limbo after the House of Lords defeated the Government on seven amendments earlier this month, forcing it back to the Commons on April 15 after the Easter recess, reports The Telegraph.

Welby added that the "immense evil" of people trafficking had to be tackled and that "open borders" were not the answer as neither Europe nor the US was big enough to be able to take the 100 million displaced people and refugees.

He said: "So what we’ve been arguing, many people in the Lords arguing, is we need a better system that shares out this burden in a way that is fair to the countries that get the most refugees.

"Seventy two per cent of refugees end up in the country next to the one they come from, which is almost certainly going to be really poor. Now it’s fine they stay there, if the country can manage it.

"How do we make sure that country has the resources to do that in a way that enables the people to go home, or to build new lives, rather than having to travel at great risk halfway around the world?”

It comes as the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has toughened up the requirements for migrants seeking to block deportation flights to Rwanda.

In a statement issued earlier this week, the ECtHR set out a new codified version of Rule 39 orders, which were used by Strasbourg judges to block the first deportation flight to Rwanda in June 2022.

In the new version, judges can only issue the injunctions where there would be an "imminent risk of irreparable harm" if a migrant was deported to Rwanda.