Liz Truss Hits Back After Church Of England Says Rwanda Plan 'Should Shame Britain'

"Those people need to suggest an alternative policy that will work," the foreign secretary said after the first flight was given the green light to go ahead.
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Liz Truss could not say how many people would be on board the first flight to Rwanda today.
Liz Truss could not say how many people would be on board the first flight to Rwanda today.
Sky News

Liz Truss has hit back at the Church of England after it blasted the government’s controversial Rwanda asylum plan as an “immoral policy that shames Britain”.

The foreign secretary said she did not agree with the church’s characterisation of the policy, instead calling it “completely legal” and “moral”.

The Church’s condemnation came as a last-ditch legal bid to stop the first flight from going ahead today failed in the Court of Appeal.

It means that some people who have arrived illegally in the UK will be reallocated more than 4,000 miles away to Rwanda, where they will be expected to claim asylum.

Initially it was thought that approximately 37 would be on board the first flight due to take off today— but that figure is understood to have been slashed to as few as seven following a series of successful individual legal challenges..

Pressed about how many people would be on the flight, Truss told Sky News: “We are expecting to send the flight later today.

“I can’t say exactly how many people will be on the flight but the really important thing is we establish the principle and we start to break the business model of these appalling people traffickers who are trading in misery.

“There will be people on the flight and if they are not on this flight they will be on the next flight.”

Pressed if it could be just seven individuals and whether this offered “value for money”, she said: “I don’t have a figure. The important point is the principle.

“We want to break the model of the people traffickers, we want to stop these costs both in monetary cost but also in human misery.”

In a letter to the Times, the archbishops of Canterbury and York along with 23 bishops in the House of Lords, said the controversial move “should shame us as a nation”.

“Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation,” the bishops wrote.

“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.”

“Deportations, and the potential forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries, are not the way.

“This immoral policy shames Britain.”

But asked about the criticism, Truss said she did not agree and added: “The people who are immoral in this case are the people traffickers trading in human misery.

“Those people need to suggest an alternative policy that will work.

“Our policy is completely legal, it’s completely moral.”

Sky presenter Niall Paterson interjected: “Explain the logic of that to me — someone else has to come up with a better idea than yours for your idea to be ruled out as immoral?”

Truss replied: “What I’m saying to the critics of the policy who don’t have an alternative about how we deal with this illegal migration, is they don’t have an alternative, they are criticising our policy which is effective and does work.”

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