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Johnson and Charles enjoy ‘good old chinwag’ despite Rwanda asylum row

The Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales smiled for the cameras before their talks (Chris Jackson/PA)
The Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales smiled for the cameras before their talks (Chris Jackson/PA)

Boris Johnson said he had a “good old chinwag” with the Prince of Wales in Rwanda during their first talks since Charles reportedly criticised his asylum policy as “appalling”.

The Prime Minister declined to say whether he defended his widely criticised scheme to forcibly remove migrants to the East African nation when they met for a discussion over tea at a Commonwealth summit.

The Prime Minister had earlier in the day stepped back from his suggestion he would urge the heir to the throne to be open minded and stress the “obvious merits” of the policy.

The comments had appeared to frustrate royal aides, who held talks with No 10 before Mr Johnson toned down his language.

The Prime Minister and Charles smiled for the cameras before their talks, which lasted 15 minutes and took place with no aides or advisers in the room.

Asked whether they discussed his stalled asylum policy, Mr Johnson said: “I’m not going to go into what happened, the conversation that took place.

“I don’t discuss conversations either with Her Majesty the Queen or with the heir to the throne.”

But he added: “It was a good old chinwag and we certainly covered a lot of ground and … you can certainly take away from what the prince said today in his opening address to the summit, is that everyone can see the huge, huge progress that Rwanda has made.”

It was the pair’s first meeting since it was reported that Charles described the policy for dealing with asylum seekers who arrive in the UK by unauthorised means as “appalling” in private remarks.

In a series of earlier interviews, Mr Johnson struck out at “condescending” opponents of his stalled scheme to forcibly remove migrants who arrive through unauthorised means to Rwanda.

And he clearly said he would defend the policy to the heir to the throne if he raised it in their meeting, the first time they would have spoken since the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chris Jackson/PA)

“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,” Mr Johnson said.

Mr Johnson and Charles met on the fringes of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).

The first flight removing people to Rwanda was due to take off last week, but was grounded by successful legal challenges ahead of a full hearing on the scheme’s legality in UK courts.

The policy is one element of a £120 million economic deal with Kigali, but has been widely criticised in part because of concerns about Rwanda’s human rights record.

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