The policy would see people who are deemed to have entered the UK unlawfully being sent to Rwanda, where they can apply for asylum. But the proposals were fiercely condemned by the head of the Church of England, Justin Welby, during a scathing attack during his Easter sermon.
The archbishop accused the Government of “sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda”, adding it “is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures”.
Mr Welby said there are “serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas”, adding: “The details are for politics. The principle must stand the judgment of God, and it cannot.
“It cannot carry the weight of resurrection justice, of life conquering death.
“It cannot carry the weight of the resurrection that was first to the least valued, for it privileges the rich and strong.”
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The proposals have also been condemned by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who said the Rwanda policy was “depressing and distressing” in his Easter sermon.
He went on: “As we emerge from Covid the great question I find myself asking is the same as the one asked by my predecessor, William Temple, at the height of the Second World War, who wrote this ‘when this is done, what sort of nation do we want to be?’.
“So this is my question this Easter day. Do I want to be part of a nation that is hopeful, enterprising, that cares for those in need, that supports those who are in poverty because they can’t afford the heating or food for the table and offer genuine help?
“Do we want to be a nation that seeks to build and make peace, not merely enjoy it, that builds an international consensus about what it means to live alongside our neighbour?
“Do we want to continue to be known as a country that opened proper, legitimate pathways for all who flee violence, conflict and oppression, not just those from Ukraine, but also those fleeing other conflicts and the effect of climate change?
“Do we want to be known for the robustness of our democracy, where those in public life live to the highest standards, and where we can trust those who lead us to behave with integrity and honour?”
The comments come following claims Ms Patel issued a ministerial direction to overrule concerns about whether the plans – which the Refugee Council predicting British taxpayers will be coughing up £1.4 billion a year – will deliver value for money. This was only the second time the power has been deployed in the Home Office in the past 30 years.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of supporting those in need of protection and our resettlement programmes have provided safe and legal routes to better futures for hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
“However, the world is facing a global migration crisis on an unprecedented scale and change is needed to prevent vile people smugglers putting people’s lives at risk and to fix the broken global asylum system.
“Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers. Under this agreement, they will process claims in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention, national and international human rights laws.”