UK minister appears to mix up Rwanda and Congo on Question Time

UK minister appears to mix up Rwanda and Congo on Question Time

The policing minister, Chris Philp, appeared to confuse the countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on BBC Question Time on Thursday.

When discussing the government policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda, the MP for Croydon South responded to an audience member’s question during the BBC One programme by asking: “Rwanda is a different country of Congo, isn’t it?”.

An ally of Philp reportedly told the BBC Philp’s question had been rhetorical.

The audience member, who said he came from the DRC where there is fighting with neighbouring Rwanda, asked: “Had my family members come from Goma [a city on the country’s border] on a [Channel] crossing right now, would they then be sent back to the country they are supposedly warring – Rwanda?

“Does that make any sense to you?”

Philp replied: “No, I think there’s an exclusion on people from Rwanda being sent to Rwanda.”

After the audience member objected that his family were “not from Rwanda, they’re from Congo”, the Conservative MP asked: “Well, I mean, Rwanda is a different country of Congo isn’t it? It’s a different country?”

The comment caused a short outburst of laughter from some members of the debate programme’s audience and fellow panel member Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, darted his eyes around the room.

Philp continued: “There is a clause in the legislation that says if somebody would suffer – I think the phrase is ‘serious and irreversible harm’ – by being sent somewhere, they wouldn’t be sent.

“So there is that safety mechanism built into the legislation.”

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There has been a long history of violent conflict between the neighbouring countries.

The Rwanda bill became law on Thursday after being granted royal assent, paving the way for deportation flights to begin.