The Archbishop of York has condemned the government’s plan to send asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda.
On Easter Day, Stephen Cottrell described the policy as ‘truly appalling and distressing’.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme that there’s “no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker”.
There is just an asylum seeker, somebody fleeing warfare, fleeing famine, fleeing conflict, going to great lengths to escape unimaginably horrific situations.
And what we mustn’t do is put more barriers in their place – that cannot be the message of Easter.
So yes, I’m appalled at what is being proposed. And I think we can do better than this.
The Archbishop said it was right to crack down on the people traffickers. “But the people who come to us need to be dealt with dignity and compassion”.
“The government is is out of tune with British people at the moment,” he said. “I think that what’s happened in Ukraine has been a wake up call for us.
“British people have shown incredible generosity in wanting to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees…
“These people coming from Syria, from the Yemen, are in just as much need as the people in Ukraine and need to be treated with the same dignity and the same compassion.”
He was also due to criticise the government during his Easter Day service from Trinity Church in North Ormesby.
The Archbishop was also asked about the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak being fined over Partygate.
“I think trust in public life has really broken down as a result of this,” he said.
“Work must be done to rebuild trust in public life. And it’s up to the individuals themselves and the Conservative Party to decide how they’re going to respond to that.”
You can hear the interview in full here.