UK’s Johnson withdraws from dispute with Prince Charles over Rwandan land

UK’s Johnson withdraws from dispute with Prince Charles over Rwandan land
UK’s Johnson withdraws from dispute with Prince Charles over Rwandan land

KIGALI (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has distanced himself from a confrontation with Prince Charles over the government’s immigration deal with Rwanda after a spokesman said the issue was unlikely to be raised in talks with the heir to the throne.

Under a deal reached between London and Kigali, Britain will send tens of thousands of migrants arriving illegally on its shores 4,000 miles (6,400 km) to the East African country.

British newspapers reported that Charles personally criticized the plan, which also drew objections from political opponents and human rights groups, while the first planned deportation flight was blocked by a court order from the European Court of Human Rights.

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Earlier on Thursday, Johnson, who like Charles attended a summit of Commonwealth leaders in Rwanda, had said he would raise the issue with the prince, saying “critics should always keep an open mind about politics.”

“Many people can see the obvious advantages. So yes, of course, if I meet the prince tomorrow, of course I will explain the matter,” Johnson told reporters in Kigali.

Asked if he would defend it if Charles brought it up, Johnson said, “Yeah, it hasn’t come up so far, of course.”

However, a spokesman later said that Johnson was unlikely to raise the matter.

“It is not something that the prime minister has focused on at the beginning of this summit,” he said.

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According to media reports, Charles said he was more disappointed with the Rwandan government’s plans, which he described as “horrible”.

His Clarence House office has previously said it would not comment on “anonymous private conversations”, saying only that the prince remained politically neutral and that matters of policy were for the government.

He also declined to comment on Johnson’s statement.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, writing by Muvija; editing by William James and Nick Macfie)