Boris Johnson says he will stress ‘obvious merits’ of Rwanda asylum strategy to Prince Charles – UK politics live

Here’s Lisa O’Carroll, the Guardian’s Brexit correspondent, on Lord Frost’s comments earlier:

Boris Johnson has just tweeted about his meeting with Rwandan president, Paul Kagame:

Good to meet President @PaulKagame in the beautiful city of Kigali this morning.

As we hand over the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office to Rwanda, our countries will be working together closely to address the most pressing global challenges.


— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 23, 2022

A Clarence House spokesperson told PA:

As we have said previously we will not be commenting on supposed remarks made in private except to say that the prince is politically neutral. Policy is a matter for government.

Prince Charles met business leaders at the Commonwealth business forum exhibition village in Kigali today during his Rwanda visit.

It came as Boris Johnson faced questions about the Prince of Wales’s condemnation of the prime minister’s “appalling” immigration policy with Rwanda (see also 12:47).

The two men will meet for tea tomorrow.

Boris Johnson at the Commonwealth Business Forum Exhibition in Kigali, Rwanda today.
Boris Johnson at the Commonwealth Business Forum Exhibition in Kigali, Rwanda, today. Photograph: Reuters
Prince Charles departing the Commonwealth business forum exhibition at the Kigali cultural village today.
Prince Charles departing the Commonwealth business forum exhibition at the Kigali cultural village today. Photograph: Clement Uwiringiyimana/Reuters

At the exhibition village, Charles spoke to David Salmon, 21, a Jamaican scholar, who later said he wanted the country to become a republic, reports PA.

Salmon said: “I think Jamaica should become a republic but I don’t think we should leave the Commonwealth. It would be a sign of our confidence, our independence and our maturity as a nation.”

Meanwhile, Downing Street has said the prime minister does not want to see children’s education disrupted further amid threat of teachers’ strikes.

The largest teachers’ union, the National Education Union (NEU), has warned it could strike over pay and workload. But the education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has claimed such a move would be “unforgivable”.

Asked whether Boris Johnson agreed with Zahawi’s comments, a No 10 spokesperson said:

I point you specifically to his [Mr Zahawi’s] op ed and what he says, that young people have suffered more disruption to their education than any generation that’s gone before.

And it’s vital that teachers continue to help those pupils get back on track, and the last thing we want to see is anything that would risk undermining that work.

Asked again, PA reports that the spokesperson added:

Well, the prime minister agrees with what Nadhim Zahawi has said that, as I’ve clearly stated, that we don’t want to see children’s education being impacted any more than it has been, given the amount of disruption that was caused by the pandemic.

Carrie Johnson and the Duchess of Cornwall attended a violence against women and girls event at the Kigali Convention Centre today.

Here they are greeting one another with a kiss:

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, kisses Carrie Johnson, wife of prime minister Boris Johnson as they attend a Violence Against Women and Girls event at the Kigali Convention Centre today.
Camilla and Carrie Johnson greet each other. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Here’s full story from Rajeev Syal, reporting from Rwanda, on Boris Johnson ruling out quitting if Conservatives were to lose both byelections:

Boris Johnson said he will stress ‘obvious merits’ of asylum strategy to Prince Charles

The prime minister has also said he will stress the “obvious merits” of his Rwanda asylum policy when he meets Prince Charles in Kigali tomorrow after his condemnation of the “appalling” plan.

Boris Johnson said during a visit to a school in the Rwandan capital:

I am delighted that Prince Charles and everybody is here today to see a country that has undergone a complete, or a very substantial transformation.

Asked whether he will defend the plan to the Prince of Wales, he said:

People need to keep an open mind about the policy, the critics need to keep an open mind about the policy. A lot of people can see its obvious merits. So yeah, of course, if I am seeing the prince tomorrow, I am going to be making that point.

Boris Johnson says UK will ‘keep going’ with controversial Rwanda asylum policy

The prime minister has defended the legality of his controversial asylum policy, claiming it is not unlawful and that he is “just going to keep going”.

Speaking from a school in Kigali, he told those with concerns over the plan to “think about the way these two countries can work together to solve what is a very complex problem of illegal people trafficking”.

He said he had a “great talk” with the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, who he said “cares passionately” about the issue and “has himself been a refugee for a long time”.

He knows what it is like. He sees the problem of vulnerable people being trafficked across the Channel and being trafficked around the world.

He sees this as an opportunity to fix what is an increasing global problem, by a partnership between the UK and Rwanda.

It is not just about migration.

Johnson added:

It is about education, it is about trade, it is about all sorts of things, it is about green technology, financial services, all sorts of areas. It is a partnership that is growing.

He accused critics of the policy of basing their views on “a perception, perhaps a stereotype of Rwanda that is now outdated”.

He said the policy is “absolutely necessary and right to fix the problem of illegal cross-Channel trafficking of people whose lives are being put at risk by the gangs.”

He added:

I think what people need to understand, what the critics of the policy need to understand, and I have seen loads and loads of criticism, is that Rwanda has undergone an absolute transformation in the last couple of decades.

The country has come on “leaps and bounds” in education and in “taking the society forward”, he said.

The two countries have done an “immense amount of due diligence” to ensure “everything we do is in conformity with human rights”, he said.

After the two leaders’ meeting, a No 10 spokesperson said:

The leaders also praised the successful UK-Rwanda migration and economic development partnership, which is tackling dangerous smuggling gangs while offering people a chance to build a new life in a safe country.

Boris Johnson tells Kigali forum that Commonwealth has ‘the super-fertiliser’ for prosperity

Boris Johnson claimed in his address in Kigali that the Commonwealth has “the super-fertiliser” for prosperity.

The prime minister told the Commonwealth Business Forum:

We in the UK have the technology, the city of London certainly has the finance. The government that I’m proud to lead has the will. And our wonderful wonderful Commonwealth … has the super-fertiliser.

This Commonwealth fertiliser, he says, has the power to “forge a new Africa” and share African countries’ optimism.

Before signing off, he claimed, that every country of the Commonwealth can “prosper from free trade and free enterprise”.

In the UK, he says, the government is signing trade agreements across the Commonwealth and that it is “fantastic” to see the birth of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

However, he says, he doesn’t advise that African nations turn to a single currency, but adds: “I leave that entirely to you.”

“We’re making it easier to sell to the UK,” he said, adding he wanted to be “the partner of choice” for African countries.

Boris Johnson claims Commonwealth is a ‘miracle fertiliser’ of business

He said it is “a very timely meeting” following the “misery” of Covid lockdowns.

But amid spikes in cost of food and fertiliser, he claims that what countries need is a “miracle fertiliser, a fertiliser of business” which he says is the Commonwealth.

“Now is the time, my friends, to turbocharge the advantages,” he told the forum.

Over the next five years, the Commonwealth’s GDP is set to rise by 50%, he said.

Speaking in an address to the Commonwealth Business Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, Boris Johnson said: “How absolutely wonderful to be here in Kigali for our long delayed family union as the Commonwealth.”

He said he is “sorry to say” he missed the dancing last night, adding that the weather is lovely but that it is “actually hotter in London”.

Says weather is lovely but that it is “actually hotter in London”.


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