Speaking in the House of Lords on Monday, Justin Welby tore into the government’s Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill.
“We can as a nation do better than this,” he said. “In the Christian tradition we are told to welcome the stranger. Jesus said: ‘I was a stranger and you invited me in.’
The legislation is designed to overcome legal challenges to past attempts to send people to the east African country
It is central to the prime minister’s hopes of convincing voters he can “stop the boats” crossing the English channel.
The government hopes once the bill passes flights will be able to take off by the spring.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 29, 2024
But Welby told the Lords the new law sought to “obscure the truth that all people - asylum seekers included - are of great value.
“In almost every tradition of global faith and of humanism around the world, the dignity of the individual is at the heart of what is believed.
“We can as a nation do better than this bill. This bill is continuing to seek good objectives in the wrong way. leading the nation down a damaging path.
“It is damaging for asylum seekers in need of protection,” he said. “It is damaging for this country’s reputation.
’It is damaging in respect of constitutional principles and the rule of law. And most of all it is damaging for our nations unity.”
Welby added: “Rwanda is a country I know well. It is a wonderful country. My complaint is not with Rwanda nor with its people. It has overcome challenges that this House cannot begin to imagine.”
Earlier today, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) warned the law “undermines the universality of human rights”.
Downing Street said: “This Bill is a key part of how we stop violent criminal gangs targeting vulnerable people, that has led to too many deaths in the English Channel.”