Justin Welby to keep fighting the Government's immigration reforms

Justin Welby to keep fighting the Government's immigration reforms

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby vows to keep fighting the Government’s immigration reforms – insisting he ‘will not abandon’ his opposition

  • The Archbishop has been vocal in his opposition to the Illegal Migration Bill
  • It comes as ex-PM David Cameron urged critics to come up with a ‘better answer’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has vowed to carry on challenging the Government’s immigration reforms.

Justin Welby warned that he and other bishops in the House of Lords ‘will not abandon’ their opposition to Suella Braverman’s Illegal Migration Bill.

The legislation, which is currently before the Lords, sets out a series of measures to ‘detain and swiftly remove’ migrants who arrive in Britain by ‘irregular’ routes such as across the Channel by small boat.

The archbishop’s renewed attack on the proposals came as former prime minister David Cameron urged critics to stop voicing opposition unless they have a ‘better answer’.

In his latest highly political intervention on the issue, Mr Welby wrote in the Times: ‘This Bill will do little to resolve the existing problems, and will exacerbate others, all while causing serious suffering to the most vulnerable.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has vowed to keep fighting the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill. Pictured: Justin Welby during a debate on the bill in the House of Lords on May 10

He has warned he and other bishops will not drop their opposition to the bill being spearheaded by Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Pictured: Ms Braverman with (left to right) Welsh Secretary David TC Davies, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today

‘Those who sit on the bishops’ bench will not abandon our duty to point out when governments propose legislation that is impractical or immoral.

‘We will not abandon the most vulnerable people that Jesus Christ specifically calls us to love.’

The archbishop said he had tabled amendments to the Bill which were designed to be ‘helpful’ rather than ‘destructive’, which would require ministers to ‘produce long-term strategies to tackle human trafficking and the refugee crisis’.

The Anglican leader has previously described the Bill as ‘morally unacceptable’.

And in his Easter sermon last year he said the Home Office’s £140million deal to send migrants to Rwanda would not ‘stand up to the judgment of God’.

Meanwhile, ex-PM Mr Cameron said he had ‘huge sympathy’ with the government’s attempts to dismantle people smugglers’ trade.

He told radio station LBC: ‘I think if you don’t have a better answer to the things that the government is doing to try and stop this illegal trade, then I think there’s no point criticising.’

At least 50 migrants crossed the Channel by small boat today, although overall numbers so far this year are down on 2022’s figures.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has said people shouldn’t criticise the Rwanda scheme unless they have ‘a better answer’ to stop people smugglers. Pictured: Mr Cameron recording an interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari on Tuesday

Official Home Office data – not including yesterday’s unconfirmed number of arrivals – shows 7,297 people have made the treacherous journey so far this year.

At the same point in 2022, the figure stood at 9,296.

Last year saw a record total of 45,755 migrants detected arriving by small boats – 60 per cent higher than the previous year’s 28,526.

Mr Welby’s amendments to the Bill are expected to be voted on in July.

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