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UK News

Sir John Major: 'The Church mustn't be pushed into the sidelines of life' amidst government's Rwanda deportation plans

by Alex Collett

Former Prime Minister John Major says "the church must not be pushed into the sidelines of life" amidst the government's Rwanda deportation plan. 

Speaking at Newcastle Cathedral at the National Cathedrals Conference on Monday, Sir John defended the right of church leaders to comment publicly on matters of politics.

Sir John said: "The Church mustn't be pushed into the sidelines of life. 

"It must be alive in our communities, in our discourse, in our daily concerns. 

"Politics is about how we live; that cannot - and should not - be ignored by the Church."

Sir John went on to say that the government's Rwanda deportation plan, will put "a stain on the country's reputation" if it is not reversed.  

He said: "In England, in 1763, Lord Chancellor Henley said, 'if a man steps foot in England, he is a free man.'

"Today, under the pressure of numbers, if that man is a refugee in a rubber boat, he receives a chilly welcome and the threat of deportation to Rwanda.

"I cannot believe that is the right way forward: such a policy is not a moral advance, and I hope the Government will look again. 

"We need a policy that is Europe-wide to contain people-smuggling and help the miserable and unfortunate victims of this trade."

The Archbishop of Canterbury and other faith leaders also denounced the plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda after the plans were revealed last month. 

Rt Rev Justin Welby told Easter Sunday congregations that the policy did not stand "the judgment of God" and posed "serious ethical questions".

Boris Johnson and other Conservative MPs accused church leaders of misconstruing the proposal. 

In an upbeat speech to Tory MPs after his partygate apology in the Commons, the prime minister said that while bishops attacked the Rwanda deal in their Easter sermons they had been silent about Putin.

His comment was met with further rebuttal from Welby, who echoed previous sentiments against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

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