Archbishop of York says ‘forgive my predictable leftie rant’ as he asks people to show 'compassion' to asylum seekers

The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, during his enthronement as the 98th Archbishop of York, at a service of evensong inside York Minster.
The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, during his enthronement as the 98th Archbishop of York, at a service of evensong inside York Minster.

Rishi Sunak pledged to 'abolish' the backlog of asylum claims by the end of 2023

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The Archbishop of York has called for people to show compassion for asylum seekers after Rishi Sunak pledged to “abolish” the backlog of asylum claims by the end of 2023.

Sunak also promised to restart flights to send migrants to Rwanda and introduce new legislation in 2023 to make it “unambiguously clear that if you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here.

“Instead, you will be detained and swiftly returned either to your home country or to a safe country where your claim for asylum will be considered.

“And you will no longer be able to frustrate removal attempts with late or spurious claims or appeals. Once removed you should have no right to re-entry, settlement, or citizenship.”

The only way to come to the UK for asylum will be “through safe and legal routes”, he said, adding: “As we get a grip of illegal migration, we will create more of those routes” with an “annual quota on numbers set by Parliament”.

Mr Sunak insisted this was the “fair way to address this global challenge” and warned: “Tackling this problem will not be quick. It will not be easy. But it is the right thing to do.

Writing in The Telegraph, the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell acknowledged his comments were “an all-too predictable rant from another leftie, this time a bishop, pleading for welfare reform and greater generosity for refugees and asylum seekers”.

He added: “I do indeed think that how we deal with asylum seekers and refugees, and how we reform and strengthen the health service, and how we provide dignity and basic provision for the poorest in our communities should be taken far more seriously and that as a nation we need to find ways of taking a longer, more compassionate view.

“The short term politics of election cycles don’t help us deal with long term issues. But what I want to celebrate in this article, is where those in need do go.”

Archbishop of York Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell (left) and The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby outside Westminster Hall
Archbishop of York Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell (left) and The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby outside Westminster Hall

Earlier today a teenager was charged with facilitating attempted illegal entry to the UK after four people died when a migrant boat capsized in the Channel on Wednesday.

Ibrahima Bah, 19, of no fixed address, has been remanded in custody and will appear before Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Kent Police said.

A major rescue operation off the Kent coast began at 2.16am on December 14 after reports of a boat in distress, with the Royal Navy, French navy, Coastguard, RNLI lifeboats, ambulance service and police involved.

A total of 39 people were safely brought to shore, while four others were pronounced dead.