Boris Johnson and Prince Charles try to defuse growing row over Rwanda asylum policy

The prime minister and the Heir to the Throne are set to avoid talking about the controversial asylum plan when they meet face-to-face in Rwanda on Friday. Credit: PA

The prime minister has accused critics of his controversial asylum seeker plan, including Prince Charles, of failing to have an open mind about the policy.But the two men will avoid talking about it when they meet face-to-face on Friday.It suggests the two sides wish to defuse what was becoming a growing rift.

Boris Johnson landed in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, today, where Prince Charles already had a royal tour underway ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.

But after he landed in Rwanda, the prime minister was asked about the Prince’s reported remarks that the policy was “appalling." Mr Johnson 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 it’s obvious merits.”

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The Heir to the Throne, who is at the summit on behalf of the Queen will meet Boris Johnson in a face-to-face meeting on Friday.It’s the first time the two men have met since the Prince’s reported remarks, made in private, were leaked to newspapers.Mr Johnson initially said he would defend the policy if Prince Charles were to raise it: “Of course, if I am seeing the prince tomorrow, I am going to be making that point."

Royal Editor Chris Ship provides analysis after it emerged the prime minister and Prince Charles would not discuss the controversial asylum plan

Not one plane carrying asylum seekers has left the UK for Rwanda following a legal challenge in the courts, but the prime minister told reporters that the critics of the policy, which presumably include Prince Charles as well as bishops and human rights campaigners, had an “outdated” view of Rwanda.Mr Johnson said: “I just think they're basing their criticisms on a perception, perhaps a stereotype of Rwanda that is now outdated, and they should come here … to see the kind of progress that Rwanda has made.”

It is quite a bold statement to accuse the future Head of the Commonwealth of not having a proper understanding of Rwanda - the newest member of the 54 nations in the organisation.The Prince said yesterday that the country had made a remarkable transformation since the terrible events of the 1994 genocide in which at least 800,000 people were killed.A spokesperson for Prince Charles said he “remains politically neutral” and that policy - including asylum policy - “is a matter for government."Both sides are now suggesting that the topic - despite it happening in the country they are both in - will not come up in their discussions, which will now focus on sustainability and the Commonwealth.