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Prime Minister ignores calls to apologise for 'slandering' the Archbishop of Canterbury

by Sophie Drew
Boris Johnson.JPG - Banner image
Reuters

The Prime Minister has ignored calls to apologise to the Archbishop of Canterbury following comments made in a meeting with backbenchers.

During Prime Minister's Questions, opposition leader Sir Kier Starmer urged Boris Johnson to apologise to the church leader, Most Rev Justin Welby.

The quarrel began after Archbishop Welby accused the government of "subcontracting our responsibilities" during his Easter Sunday sermon. 

He said that plans to fly illegal migrants to Rwanda were "opposite to the nature of God."

The Prime Minister is now accused of aiming a "disgraceful slur" at the Archbishop, saying senior clergy had been "less vociferous" in their response to Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, in comparison to the response offered to the Rwanda plans. 

From the House of Commons, Sir Keir Starmer offered Johnson an opportunity to redeem himself, saying: "Would the prime minister like to take this opportunity to apologise for slandering the Archbishop and the Church of England?" 

However, Boris Johnson doubled down on his claims that the policy is an attempt to save the lives of those attempting to cross the Channel. 

Lambeth Palace has issued a statement, saying they will continue to condemn the move on "moral and ethical grounds". 

Despite claims allegedly made by the Prime Minister, both Archbishop Welby and the Archbishop of York, Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, have strongly opposed the invasion of Ukraine, calling it an "act of great evil."

A number of government leaders have responded to the comments made by the Archbishop. 

Priti Patel - the home secretary - called for institutions criticising the plans to come up with their own solution.

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