Church of England accuses Boris Johnson of ‘disgraceful slur’ against Archbishop of Canterbury



The Church of England has accused Boris Johnson of a “disgraceful slur” against the Archbishop of Canterbury, following his criticism of the government’s immigration policy.

The prime minister claimed at a private meeting of Tory MPs on Tuesday afternoon that the clergy had been less outspoken on the Russian invasion of Ukraine than on his plan to deport refugees to Rwanda.

But on Tuesday evening Lambeth Palace pushed back at Mr Johnson’s apparent attempt to delegitimize the Archbishop’s Easter Sunday criticism of the government.

John Bingham, head of media at the Church of England, said in a post on social media that if the reports from the meeting were true they were “a disgraceful slur”.

He pointed to a statement issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the morning of the invasion immediately condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine as “horrific and unprovoked” as well as “an act of great evil”.

Justin Welby and Stephen Cottrell had also urged Christians to make “a special day of prayer for Ukraine, Russia and for peace as well as supporting a global day of “prayer and fasting for peace” on Ash Wednesday.

Sources close to the prime minister used the meeting of Tory MPs on Tuesday to accuse the senior clergy of being “less vociferous” in condemning Vladimir Putin.

The prime minister announced last week that some people arriving in Britain would be resettled in Rwanda.

The announcement provoked strong criticism from across the political spectrum, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Mr Welby who raised “serious ethical questions” about the policy in his Easter Sunday address.

In the sermon, the archbishop said the policy could not “stand the judgment of God” and that “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.”

The Rwanda announcement comes after a string of damaging news stories about the prime minister’s lawbreaking behavior during the Covid lockdown – and the policy is being interpreted in Westminster as an attempt to move the news agenda onto other matters.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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