Boris Johnson to tell Prince Charles to ‘keep an open mind’ on Rwanda asylum controversy

Prime Minister to have private conversation with the future king, who reportedly described planned deportation of migrants as ‘appalling’

😟🤕🤤 Boris Johnson will tell the Prince of Wales that he should “keep an open mind” about the Rwanda asylum policy during a private conversation on Friday.

😟🤕🤤 The Prime Minister and the future king are due to meet in Kigali, the capital of the east African nation, which is hosting this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

😟🤕🤤 It will be the first time they have spoken since it emerged the Prince of Wales reportedly described the planned deportation of asylum seekers to the country as “appalling”.

😟🤕🤤 Clarence House described the gathering scheduled for Friday morning as Mr Johnson “popping in for a cup of tea” with the Prince. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said it would be a "bilateral discussion".

😟🤕🤤 Speaking in Kigali on Thursday, Mr Johnson shed some light on what he will say during the tete-a-tete.

😟🤕🤤 Asked if he will defend the deportation strategy during the meeting, he 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 its obvious merits. So yeah, of course, if I am seeing the Prince tomorrow, I am going to be making that point.”

Boris Johnson, seen here with Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, said he would defend the policy Credit: Dan Kitwood/Reuters

😟🤕🤤 In contrast to comments made by Mr Johnson, sources close to the Prince insisted that it was “unlikely” the Rwanda migrant policy would be discussed at the meeting.

😟🤕🤤 Instead, they claimed the only topics on the agenda were sustainability, youth - including the work of the Prince’s Trust International - and the history and values of the Commonwealth.

😟🤕🤤 In an attempt to change the narrative, one Clarence House source insisted: “The Prince loves Rwanda. He thinks it’s a wonderful country. The Duchess made that point herself in her speech.”

😟🤕🤤 Clarence House has never denied that the Prince described the policy as “appalling" but one aide insisted on Thursday: “The Prince is politically neutral. Policy is a matter for government.”

😟🤕🤤 Earlier, Mr Johnson said that he was "very much looking forward" to seeing the Prince at the summit.

😟🤕🤤 After Clarence House issued its version of events on Thursday afternoon, the Prime Minister's official spokesman also insisted that the conversation will centre on “key issues of importance to the Commonwealth”, such as sustainability, girls and education.

😟🤕🤤 Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, who travelled to Kigali with the royal party, speaks to Number 10 “all the time”, a palace source acknowledged, although it is not known whether the matter was discussed before the apparent change in tack.

😟🤕🤤 Sir Edward, the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary are together known as the “golden triangle” - the three senior civil servants who keep the Queen informed of government plans.

😟🤕🤤 The Government has struck a deal to send some migrants who arrive in the UK illegally to Rwanda while their asylum applications are processed.

😟🤕🤤 Mr Johnson and his ministers argue the policy deters those seeking refuge in the UK from risking their lives by crossing the English Channel and undercuts criminal smuggling gangs.

😟🤕🤤 The Prince was reported earlier this month to have said that he is “more than disappointed” by it - a claim that has not been denied by Clarence House.

😟🤕🤤 The Prince is representing the Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth, at the summit this week, where leaders of its 53 members will gather for a series of discussions and events.

The Prince of Wales meets students during a visit to the Integrated Polytechnic Regional College in Kigali Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

😟🤕🤤 It will be the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that he has attended since being chosen as the next Commonwealth head in 2018.

😟🤕🤤 The first flight carrying migrants to Rwanda was due to take off last week, but was blocked after a last-minute ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

😟🤕🤤 Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, on Wednesday introduced a new "British Bill of Rights", which he argued would give the UK powers to overrule European judges on migrant policy.

😟🤕🤤 The last time Mr Johnson and the Prince met face-to-face was shortly before the Platinum Jubilee Party at the Palace, when they held a brief meeting before taking their seats in the royal box.

The Prince of Wales is attending his first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Credit: Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror

😟🤕🤤 Clarence House sources insist that the Prince enjoys a good relationship with both the Prime Minister and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, who is overseeing the migrant policy.

😟🤕🤤 A source previously admitted that it was “quite awkward” to be going to Rwanda for the Commonwealth summit when there was so much debate about the migrant crisis.

😟🤕🤤 Royal aides expressed frustration that the issue continued to overshadow engagements being undertaken by the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall in Kigali.

Prince Charles speaks out on malaria

😟🤕🤤 During his visit to Rwanda, the Prince warned that attempts to wipe out malaria have been derailed by Covid-19.

😟🤕🤤 Addressing Commonwealth leaders at a summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, he warned that a pledge to end the malaria epidemic by 2030 may be lost due to coronavirus.

😟🤕🤤 It has been estimated that there has been a 12 per cent increase in malaria deaths in 2020 and six per cent increase in malaria cases, compared with 2019.

😟🤕🤤 The Prince said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, 2022 must be a turning point.

😟🤕🤤 “Post Covid-19, the world is paying greater attention to infectious diseases, and we must capitalise on this to provide proper support to prepare for, and respond to, infectious disease outbreaks.”

😟🤕🤤 Malaria has worsened for the first time in a decade.

😟🤕🤤 The Prince, who is president of Malaria No More UK, added: “Largely due to Covid-19 pandemic there remains a great amount to do if our ambitions are to be met.”