Boris Johnson’s survival instinct leads him to believe that he who resists wins. Any strategy to reduce irregular immigration will be applauded by those conservative voters who backed Brexit in 2016, and in 2019 gave themselves over to the current prime minister. Downing Street and the British Foreign Office have decided to stand against the barrage of criticism that their policy of deporting irregulars to the African country of Rwanda has received. The main representatives of the Church of England, 23 bishops who hold a seat in the House of Lords, have sent a letter to the newspaper The Times in which They harshly denounce an immigration practice “that should shame us as a nation.”
“Deportations, or forced returns of asylum seekers to their countries of origin, are not the way to deal with this situation. It is an immoral policy that shames Great Britain”, says a text whose first signature is that of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, main head – after the Queen, who is the supreme head – of the Anglican church. He had previously spoken about deportations in a homily in which he defined the practice as “contrary to God” (ungodlyin the English term).
“I don’t agree at all. The only immoral people in this whole thing are the traffickers who deal in human misery,” British Foreign Minister Liz Truss responded to the bishops. “This people [en referencia a los autores de la carta] you have to suggest some alternative policy that works. Ours is completely legal and completely moral,” Truss said.
If there is no last-minute backtracking, the first flight to Rwanda will take off late Tuesday night from London Stanstead Airport. Although the Johnson Government wanted to keep the place and time of the flight secret until the end, the registry of the Civil Aviation Authority has revealed that it will be a Spanish company based in Mallorca, Privilege Style, in charge of chartering a charter that will depart almost empty to Kigali airport. Of the 130 immigrants who had been notified of their imminent fate, only a dozen remain. The Government has backed down with the rest, due to the doubts and legal challenges that each particular case entailed. It has gone from being a “practical solution” to a symbolic commitment of the Johnson Executive, to show that no one is going to twist his arm. Some calculations published by the British media suggest that the flight will have a final cost of approximately 580,000 euros. “The value of the flight justifies the price”, defended the minister, “because what we really want is to prevent the cost they entail, both in money and in human lives. [las embarcaciones que cruzan el canal de la Mancha]”, he added.
British justice has, for the time being, sided with the Johnson government. Last Friday, a judge of the High Court of England rejected the petitions of individual immigrants and humanitarian organizations for the first flight to be suspended. His decision was ratified on Monday, 72 hours later, by a Court of Appeal. But that does not mean that the magistrates have endorsed the final legality of the policy. That will remain in the hands of the Supreme Court, which must rule within a few weeks.
When Boris Johnson announced the new deportation policy, agreed with the Government of Rwanda in exchange for a first installment of more than 140 million euros, he already anticipated that he would have to face a barrage of lawsuits in court. His choice was to blame lawyers and activist organizations for contributing, by delaying their resources, to the stagnation of an existing problem. “What’s behind his attempt to undermine politics [de traslados] to Rwanda, is, I fear, an attempt to undermine all our efforts to find legal and safe routes for those coming to the UK, rather than the dangerous and illegal routes they use,” Johnson told his ministers at the meeting. of the Cabinet this Tuesday. They are meetings vetoed to the cameras, but the prime minister has begun to allow access to the media in the first minutes, to launch a message aimed more at citizens than at members of his government.
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Other comments, such as his rejection of the intervention in the immigration debate of the heir to the throne, Charles of England, are kept private. The newspaper The Times revealed last week that the queen’s son had shown, in a private conversation, his rejection of a policy that he defined as “appalling”. Buckingham Palace has neither confirmed nor denied the information.
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