'Why Should We Trust You?': Emma Barnett Skewers Chris Philp Over Rwanda Gaffe

The policing minister went viral following his embarrassing geographical blunder.
Emma Barnett clashed with Chris Philp on her first day as a Today presenter.
Emma Barnett clashed with Chris Philp on her first day as a Today presenter.

Emma Barnett left a Tory minister squirming after reminding him of the embarrassing gaffe in which he appeared to not know that Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are different countries.

The BBC journalist clashed with Chris Philp on her first day of co-presenting BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

Philp, the policing minister, went viral last month following an appearance on Question Time.

He was facing questions on the government’s Rwanda deportation plan when a member of the audience asked whether relatives from Congo could be sent to the neighbouring country.

“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 replied.

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

Barnett told him: “You went viral a few weeks ago with my colleagues on Question Time. Why should we have confidence in you as a Home Office minister and the government that you are part of to keep us safe?

“Just to remind those who perhaps didn’t watch you on Question Time. The audience gasped in horror when you seemed to be unsure if Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo were different countries. Why should we trust you?”

Philp replied: “I think any fair-minded listener would say that that a clearly rhetorical question in fairness, and I was having trouble hearing what the questioner was saying.”

But Barnett insisted Philp’s gaffe was indicative of a wider problem for the Tories.

She said: “This is your issue in the polls, whether the country can buy that you really are the people to trust.

“You may say any fair-minded listener would have seen you were asking a rhetorical question. Are you saying the viewers of Question Time were not fair-minded when they visibly and audibly gasped with your question and they way you seemed to posit it?

“I think it’s important to try and understand how it was in the room and also on a human level how you’ve felt since being a minister held up as not knowing the difference between those two countries.”

The minister said: “I was having trouble hearing the question and anyone who wants to listen to the clip can form their own judgment. It was, I think, fairly clearly a rhetorical question.”


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