Boris Johnson slammed for ‘disgraceful’ attack on Justin Welby over Rwanda policy criticism

The Church of England’s head of news John Bingham said if the reports of Mr Johnson’s behind-closed-doors comment were true it was a “disgraceful slur”

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has been strongly condemned for his ‘disgraceful’ attack on Justin Welby, after the Archbishop of Canterbury had criticised his policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Johnson accused Welby of having “misconstrued” the policy, after the Archbishop had criticised the policy in a sermon, saying that the government’s decision to send migrants to  Rwanda would not stand up to the scrutiny of God.

In his Easter sermon on Sunday, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said “sub-contracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God who himself took responsibility for our failures”.

He also said that there were serious ethical questions about sending asylum seekers overseas.

Boris Johnson is reported to have told Tory MPs during a private address yesterday that the top clergy should be condemning Vladimir Putin instead.

Sources close to the prime minister said Johnson accused the archbishop of being “less vociferous” in his condemnation of President Putin than he was in his attack on the policy.

The truth is that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, have publicly condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as an “act of great evil”.

The Church of England leaders said in a joint statement: “The horrific and unprovoked attack on Ukraine is an act of great evil.

“Placing our trust in Jesus Christ, the author of peace, we pray for an urgent ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian forces.

“We call for a public decision to choose the way of peace and an international conference to secure long-term agreements for stability and lasting peace.”

In February, the Archbishop also tweeted: “The horrific and unprovoked attack on Ukraine is an act of great evil.  We call for Christians to make this Sunday a day for prayer for peace.”

Following Johnson’s remarks, the Church of England’s head of news John Bingham said if the reports of Mr Johnson’s behind-closed-doors comment were true it was a “disgraceful slur”.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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