BORIS Johnson yesterday urged Prince Charles to keep an open mind over his Rwandan deportation policy ahead of their hotly-anticipated summit today.
Yesterday Boris said he would try to win round Charles if he raised the deportations issue. But as the row threatened to overshadow the global get-together, both sides scrambled to downplay the dust-up.
No10 said it was “unlikely” BoJo would raise the matter when the pair meet over a cup of tea.
But earlier in the day, Boris defended his policy when quizzed on the Prince’s opposition. He said: “The critics need to keep an open mind. A lot of people can see its obvious merits.”
He said: “People need to keep an open mind about the policy, the critics need to keep an open mind about the policy.
Asked if he would make the case to Charles if it is raised, he added: “Of course. I am going to be making that point.”
He said Rwanda has come on in “leaps and bounds” since the 1994 genocide of 800,000 people.
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And he said the nation’s hosting of the summit is an opportunity for the world, and his deportation critics, to see it is a booming country safe for immigrants.
Boris said: “I am delighted that Prince Charles and everybody here is today to see a country that has undergone a complete, or a very substantial, transformation.”
The plan to send illegal immigrants who arrive in Britain on small boats to Rwanda has hit the buffers after judges in Strasbourg stopped the first flight taking off.
Yesterday it emerged Britain has handed over the entire £120million payment for the scheme.
'Fix the problem'
Rwanda says it is raring to go and has set up “Hope Hostel” to welcome the migrants.
Defiant Boris said it is the only way to smash trafficking gangs. He added: “This is a plan that I think is necessary and right to fix the problem of illegal cross-Channel trafficking of people whose lives are being put at risk by the gangs.
Charles’s aides are privately worried at the PM’s barb. But sources close to the Prince said he and Boris are “unlikely” to discuss the migrants policy over tea. Instead they will focus on climate change, education for girls, and Charles’ passion for the Commonwealth.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson would stick to the script.
At the heads of state summit, Charles will say it “is a matter for each member to decide” if they wish to become a republic. He will say: “The benefit of long life brings me the experience that arrangements such as these can change, calmly and without rancour.”
Fifteen realms still have the Queen as head of state including Australia, Canada and New Zealand and all are in the Commonwealth of 54 members.
Barbados removed its ties with the Queen in December and Jamaica plans to follow.
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