PM wants Rwanda trip to 'shed condescending attitudes' as he defends asylum plan

The PM has said he is 'very much looking forward' to meeting Prince Charles in Rwanda. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson says he is “very much looking forward” to meeting Prince Charles in Rwanda on Friday, and hopes to use his visit to help people “shed their condescending attitudes” towards the country.

Speaking before he departed for a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in the capital Kigali, the prime minister defended his plan to send asylum seekers to the African country as “sensible and measured” and said the summit was “an opportunity for us all to understand for ourselves what that partnership has to offer, and what the Rwandans have to offer.”

The first plane carrying illegal migrants was due to leave the UK for Rwanda last week but was grounded by several legal challenges.

“I’m conscious I am arriving before anybody who has travelled illegally across the channel is arriving,” said the PM.

“I cannot conceal that fact from you, but it is still the case that no UK court and no international court has ruled our plan unlawful.

“Let’s hope perhaps to help others shed their condescending attitudes towards Rwanda…I think it’s a good idea and it’s the way to beat the illegal people traffickers across the channel and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know

On Friday Mr Johnson will meet Prince Charles, who is at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit representing the Queen.

The meeting, described as “tea and a catch-up”, will be closely watched after The Times reported the Prince of Wales described the government’s Rwanda asylum policy as “appalling”.

Asked about the reports, Mr Johnson said he had “no evidence” the Prince made the comments.

“All I can say is I think the policy is sensible, measured and it’s a plan to deal with the grotesque abuse of innocent people crossing the channel,” he said.

“I am very much looking forward to seeing him.”

The PM would not confirm whether or not the pair will discuss the policy, saying he would not be expected to comment on conversations with the Prince.