Scrap 'immoral' Rwanda plan, say Church of England leaders

Justin Welby (r) and Stephen Cottrell (l) are co-signatories of the letter.(Photo: Church of England)

Leaders in the Church of England have called on the government to axe its policy of sending failed asylum seekers to Rwanda.

In a strongly worded letter published in The Times, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, alongside over 20 bishops, denounced the police as "immoral" and said that it brings "shame" on Britain. 

Legal challenges are being heard ahead of the first deportation flight to Rwanda scheduled to take off on Tuesday afternoon.

The government claims the policy is necessary to clamp down on the people smugglers profiting from transporting people across the English Channel in small boats. 

"Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation," the Church leaders write.

"The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke publicly against the Rwanda plan in his Easter Sunday sermon when he said it raises "serious ethical questions" and was "the opposite of the nature of God". 

He was strongly criticised by the government for his comments and critics suggested he should stay out of politics but he later defended speaking out on the matter, saying that it would have been "cowardly" not to do so.