Ex-Cabinet Minister demands Archbishop respects ‘will of the people’

A senior Tory has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to respect MPs for delivering “the will of the people” in tackling illegal migration.

The Lords inflicted a string of fresh defeats backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury this week.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby warned against immigration and asylum being used as a “wedge issue to divide” as peers pressed demands for further changes to the Illegal Migration Bill.

But the former Cabinet minister, speaking anonymously, said: “I fully respect the Archbishop and his ­colleagues who grasp things beyond the world in which we live. I hope they respect my grasp of the realities we face day to day. My job as an elected person answerable to the ­people is to deal with the realities of the world in which we live.

“The pressing problem of immigration requires urgent action.

“I hope they’ll respect my determination to make sure we deliver ­the will of the people.”

It comes after the Commons overturned a raft of earlier revisions by the unelected Lords chamber, despite rebellions by Tory MPs concerned about the ­flagship reforms.

The latest Lords defeats on Wednesday followed the ­failure of local authorities in Essex in blocking Wethersfield Airfield from housing asylum seekers. Some 46 single adult men moved in after Braintree Council failed in a High Court bid and appeal.

The Home Office had offered several concessions to the Lords, including ditching a move to backdate removals to March when the draft Bill was introduced to Parliament. But the Lords insist the Government must give more ground.

The latest nine defeats mean the parliamentary ping-pong, where legislation is batted between Lords and Commons, until agreement can be reached, continues.

Mr Welby, who calls the reforms “morally unacceptable”, defied ministers to back all amendments. He wants a 10-year plan for collaborating internationally on refugees and human trafficking to the UK. Mr Welby said: “The issue of immigration and asylum is an extraordinarily divisive one.

“This is a massive international issue on a generational basis and it needs profound thinking on a long-term basis in order to tackle it.

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