The Archbishop of Canterbury has publicly refuted Suella Braverman’s assertion that there is a “invasion” of asylum seekers in the UK.
Politicians who demonise immigrants with “harmful rhetoric” have come under fire from Justin Welby.
“Let’s be clear about what is really going on here: the British people deserve to know which party is serious about stopping the invasion on our southern coast and which party is not,” the home secretary said in October, setting off an uproar among MPs.
She was alluding to the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who cross the English Channel from France to the UK on small boats.
The archbishop made a veiled jab at Braverman’s comments during a House of Lords discussion on the UK’s asylum system.
“When we fail to challenge the harmful rhetoric that refugees are the cause of this country’s ills, that they should be treated as problems not people, invaders to be tackled and deterred, we deny the essential value and dignity of our fellow human beings.” He said.
He continued: “The right to seek asylum, and the duty of the global community to protect refugees, has been politically degraded in this country when it should be a positive and a source of pride.”
Welby underlined that he was not only criticising the present administration for the “grossly wasteful” immigration system in the UK.
He said “This has been a decades-long downward slide over successive Labour, Conservative and coalition governments.”
“We are clear that the UK cannot take everyone. But it can make its decisions through a system which balances effective, accurate and clear control with compassion and dignity, a system which is based in our history and proper moral responsibilities.”
The contentious government proposal to deport rejected asylum seekers to Rwanda was also criticised by the archbishop, who predicted that it would fail.
The Rwanda policy, according to the government, tries to prevent individuals from entering the UK by “illegal, dangerous, or unnecessary methods,” he added.
“There is little or no evidence that this deterrence or the hostile environment really works. The Government’s own impact assessments say so … Outsourcing our share creates more opportunities for people smugglers to operate in and around Rwanda.
“It is not a solution – it is a mistake. It will be a failure.”