Priti Patel has ‘misunderstood’ church’s role, says bishop after Rwanda migrant deal row

Priti Patel’s local bishop has accused her of misunderstanding the role of the church in the continuing row over the Rwanda migrant deal.

Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford and a former asylum seeker, wrote to the Home Secretary on Monday to express her full backing for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who described the Rwanda proposal as ungodly, and to urge her to reconsider her position.

It came after Ms Patel issued a thinly-veiled attack on the Most Rev Justin Welby.

In a joint article with Vincent Biruta, the Rwandan foreign minister, published in The Times, the Home Secretary rounded on critics of the scheme and said they had failed to offer any alternative solution to the migrant crisis.

She defended the controversial proposal as a “bold and innovative” way of combating the “deadly trade” of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

The Right Rev Francis-Dehqani, who was born in Iran, said her own lived experience as an asylum seeker made her “extremely anxious” about the scheme and its implications. She said it treated the most vulnerable in a “cruel and inhumane” way.

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