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Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin addresses government’s Rwanda scheme

The Bishop of Dover has suggested people are only concerned about immigration when it comes to “brown people”.

The Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin said some British citizens "do not understand their own history", as previously the population has migrated to others parts of the world, such as Africa and Asia.

Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin. Picture: Jim Drew
Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin. Picture: Jim Drew

Bishop Hudson-Wilkin, the first black female bishop appointed by the Church of England, addressed the government’s illegal migration bill, which hopes to give ministers the power to remove people arriving in the UK via illegal channels, with migrants prevented from claiming asylum.

Rather, they would be detained and then removed, to Rwanda or another “safe country”.

The government says changes are needed to prevent people smugglers putting people’s lives at risk.

During an interview filmed at Canterbury Cathedral, which aired today on BBC’s HARDtalk, the bishop also responded to concerns her congregation may have about the arrival of small boats.

Bishop Hudson-Wilkin said: “I’m appalled by the Rwanda plans and the reason I’m appalled is since time immemorial people have moved, people have picked themselves up, picked their families up and decided we’re going to go there or go there, where life is better.

More than 8,000 crossings have been made this year so far
More than 8,000 crossings have been made this year so far

“I’d love to remind the British that they were economic migrants when they went to Africa, when they went to Asia, when they travelled to the Caribbean, they wanted to improve their lives. That’s what these people are doing.

“Time and time again I hear people say “Oh why are they coming here?” People do not understand their own history. And part of their own history is that the British went there and taught the English language. So they feel a natural affinity or connection or they already have family here.

“Isn’t it interesting that it’s only for brown people that we hold those views? I don’t hear people saying that about the Ukrainians coming or even the Hong Kong Chinese people coming. Isn’t that interesting? I find it interesting.”

A former chaplain to the Queen, the Jamaican-born Rt Revd Hudson-Wilkin was first appointed as a Bishop in 2019, following the retirement of the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott.

Since then she has joined Archbishop of Canterbury, the Ven Justin Welby, in being outspoken in opposing the government’s immigration policy.

“Time and time again I hear people say ‘Oh why are they coming here?’”

So far this year more than 8,000 people have arrived in the UK by crossing the channel in small boats, but this is 2,000 less arrivals than this time last year.

A government spokesperson told the BBC: "It is wrong to compare and set vulnerable groups against each other. The UK has a proud history of supporting those in need of protection.

"Our resettlement programmes have provided safe and legal routes to better futures for hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe.

"However, the world is facing a global migration crisis on an unprecedented scale, and change is needed to prevent vile people smugglers putting people's lives at risk and to fix the broken global asylum system.

“Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers."

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