Tory Minister Mocked For Asking If Rwanda And Congo Are Different Countries

The audience reaction to Conservative minister Chris Philp.
The audience reaction to Conservative minister Chris Philp. BBC

A Conservative minister has faced ridicule on BBC Question Time for saying: “Rwanda is a different country to Congo, isn’t it?”

Chris Philp was facing questions on the government’s Rwanda deportation plan when a member of the audience from Tottenham, north London, questioned whether relatives from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) would be sent to the neighbouring African country.

Almost seven million people have been displaced by violence in eastern DRC, one of Africa’s most volatile regions.

Violent clashes have recently escalated between the DRC’s army and Rwandan-backed M23 Tutsi-led rebels in eastern Congo.

On the broadcaster’s flagship politics show, the audience member asked if family members fleeing the DRC would be sent to Rwanda given the conflict.

“No, I think there’s an exclusion on people from Rwanda being sent from Rwanda,” replied Philp.

“They’re not from Rwanda, they’re from Congo,” the audience member said back.

Philip seemed puzzled, and then asked: “Well ... Rwanda is a different country of Congo, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” intervened host Fiona Bruce, among others, as some in the audience laughed, and Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting’s eyes said it all.

You can watch the exchange below.

Legislation underpinning the immigration crackdown finally made it through a parliamentary stalemate this week that has caused months of delay to Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda policy.

Britain and Rwanda signed a deal almost two years ago that would see migrants who cross the English Channel in small boats sent to the east African country, where they would remain permanently. So far, no migrant has been sent to Rwanda under the agreement.

The plan is key to Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” bringing unauthorised migrants to the UK. He argues that deporting asylum seekers will deter people from making risky journeys and break the business model of people-smuggling gangs.