The prince is as hypocritical as the PM

Published by The i paper (13th June, 2022)

Prince Charles is right: the Government’s plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda is “appalling”. It is a callous, costly and cynical stunt that is all too typical of Boris Johnson’s populist government, an ugly idea designed to stoke culture wars and stir divisions at home while disguising its policy deficiencies. Outsourcing refugees to a poor African country demeans our wealthy nation, will drive up profits for people smugglers able to charge higher fees to circumvent the rules and distracts from the multiple failures of the abysmal home secretary Priti Patel.

It is worth clarifying why Patel is ratcheting up the hostile environment. She is under pressure from the right over migrants and refugees crossing the Channel after 28,000 arrived last year (and 44 desperate human beings died or went missing). Some of her department’s ideas such as use of floating walls and wave machines were deemed too absurd even for this government. Meanwhile more than seven in 10 arrivals in 2021 were found to be genuine asylum seekers – a figure that does not include those going on to appeal, about half of whom then won their case. And the number of forced deportations and voluntary departures of failed asylum seekers hit a record low at about one-twentieth of the peak under Tony Blair in 2005.

So instead of accepting France’s offer to process claims on their land – thereby preventing the flow of people over the Channel but risking a rise in applications – Patel’s pitiful solution to silence her critics is to pay a dictatorship. She hopes this will hide her own failures to fix the asylum system while provoking sufficient furore to look tough. She is spending substantial sums of public money to promote her plan on social media. If not stopped by legal challenges, the Government will deport refugees seeking sanctuary on our shores to the most densely-crowded country in Africa, where those granted the right to protection will be permitted to remain. And if thwarted by the law, she will lash out again at “do-gooders” and “left lawyers.”

No wonder the heir to the throne is concerned over damage to Britain’s reputation. But while I agree with him, it is also appalling that a careless Prince Charles has allowed opposition to a key government policy to enter the public realm. The jubilee celebrations just underlined the widespread admiration for his mother, which was won partly though an ability to largely sidestep political controversies. Soon she will be succeeded by a more interventionist monarch, a man who has not always hidden strongly-held views. I like his commitment to conservation, education and racial diversity, if not his stance on architecture and homeopathy. But if the crown is to survive as an institution, especially in such fractious times, it needs to be neutral.

Dig deeper and you discover something else appalling: Prince Charles’s culpability in assisting the Government’s efforts to launder the reputation of one of the world’s most repellent regimes. Already we have to stomach ministers and sycophantic backbenchers suddenly proclaiming the virtues of Rwanda’s “security”, aided by journalists pandering to the public relations efforts of a bloodstained dictatorship after seeing some clean streets in Kigali. This hypocrisy is revolting – especially at a time when Johnson claims to be leading the democratic world’s fight against autocracy through firm backing of Ukraine. There are, as I highlighted in this column three months ago, many disturbing similarities between Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame and Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.

Prince Charles is, regrettably, behaving little better than his shameless prime minister. Eight years ago the heir to the throne sparked a diplomatic storm when it emerged that he had compared Putin to Adolf Hitler after the Russian despot stole Crimea and started the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region. He has also shown support for Tibet and dislike of the Communist thugs in Beijing. Yet the Prince’s lament over the refugee policy is partly down to timing. Kagame has been handed the honour of hosting the biennial Commonwealth summit – despite this organisation’s supposed commitment to values such as democracy, human rights, peace and freedom of expression – so he is flying to Rwanda later this month to assist in the promotion of a Tutsi-dominated dictatorship.

Rwanda was never even a British colony. But our foolish leaders love to promote a ruthless brute who manipulates history to justify his atrocities. They have poured vast sums of aid cash already into his regime’s pocket; the tiny nation of 13m people has, incidentally, received an amazing £13.8bn in total global donations since Kagame became president at turn of the century. Bear in mind that Rwanda’s government, run by a former spy chief like his sinister soulmate in Moscow, has a sordid track record that includes assassinating critics, crushing dissidents, distorting official data, stealing elections, stifling free expression and treating state assets as its own. It has invaded another country, leading to an estimated five million deaths and looting its immense mineral wealth. And once again, Rwanda’s murderous proxy militia M23 is killing people in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

So yes, it is utterly appalling that Britain is sending refugees and more cash to a dictatorship that has butchered thousands of refugees in the past and forced many thousands more people to flee their homes. It is utterly appalling our posturing politicians in Westminster are creating more propaganda for a monstrous regime. Sadly, it is also utterly appalling that Prince Charles and the Commonwealth will soon be providing superb PR for a regime that plays naive and self-serving Westerners with such gruesome skill. The stench of hypocrisy rises from Clarence House as well as Downing Street

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