Barnsley MP disagrees with the Archbishop of Canterbury over migration
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In a speech in the Lords yesterday, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the bill could harm the UK’s reputation “home and abroad” and he didn’t think it would stop the “illegal boats”.
Mr Welby said: “It (the bill) is isolationist, it is morally unacceptable and politically impractical to let the poorest countries deal with it alone and cut our international aid.
“Even if this bill succeed in temporarily stopping the boats – and I don’t think it will – it won’t stop conflict or climate migration. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) forecasts that climate change by itself, let alone the conflicts it’s already causing, will lead to at least 800 million more refugees in total by 2050.”
Mr Welby added the bill was only “an attempt at a short-term fix”.
He said: “This is an attempt at a short-term fix. It risks great damage to the UK’s interests and reputation at home and abroad, let alone the interests of those in need of protection or the nations who together face this challenge.
“And what if other countries follow suit? The UNHCR has warned the Bill could lead to the collapse of the international system that protects refugees.
“Is that what we want the United Kingdom’s contribution to be in our leadership?”
Some Conservative MPs – such as Robert Jenrick, the the immigration minister, hit back and criticised the archbishop for his words.
Ms Cates said she was “uncomfortable” with the archbishop’s language.
She said: “I am not a theologian, but as an MP who is also a Christian and a supporter of the plans I am uncomfortable with the Archbishop’s language.
“The implied conclusion is that a completely open border policy would be the most moral policy for the Government, but I disagree. The truth is that Liberals, both inside and outside the Church, often misapply the definition of Christian compassion.”
She acknowledged that “there are many people in the world who are suffering intolerably” and help is needed to offer where it’s possible and suitable but added “the responsibility for helping everyone who is suffering in foreign countries cannot lie with the UK Government”.
Ms Cates said: “These critics of Government policy also ignore the indirect suffering — loss of security, economic competition, pressure on services — that British people face as a result of illegal immigration.
“Of course, compassion is an important virtue. But so is wisdom, and it is wisdom that is required to solve the illegal migration crisis.
“Wisdom says that the only way to stop the dangerous flow of small boats across the channel is to deter the international criminal smuggling gangs which are responsible.”