A GLASGOW provost who described the UK Government’s Rwanda scheme as “immoral, shameless and obscene” says it was a “no brainer” to take aim at Boris Johnson during his Easter sermon.

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth of St Mary's Cathedral echoed the sentiments of other religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his service to condemn the plan to send asylum seekers to Africa – likening it to “state-sponsored people trafficking”.

The priest also attacked Tory ministers over the partygate scandal.

Addressing church goers on Sunday, Holdsworth said: “[This is] a betrayal of this country’s international commitments. A betrayal of those in desperate need. Not one passion story but thousands of stories of people betrayed by those who should offer friendship, fairness, and common decency.

“The government’s proposal to export the neediest and the most desperate to a land far away for ‘processing’ is immoral, shameless and obscene. I say to the government today – ‘you can’t outsource compassion. We are better than this.’”

Home Secretary Priti Patel last week signed a deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the country if they are deemed to have entered the UK “illegally”. Writing a joint article in The Times on Monday with Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta, the Conservative minister challenged those against her plan to come up with a better idea to stop small boat crossings in the Channel.

Reflecting on his remarks, Holdsworth told BBC Good Morning Scotland (GMS) on Monday: “Do you know I think it's the strongest language I've ever used in the pulpit – because of the sense of outrage. It’s just a sense of outrage from so many people that I know and I felt that I had to give voice to that. And sometimes you just have to stand up and say that what the Government is doing is just wrong.”

Responding to Patel’s assertion that the Rwanda scheme is an effective measure against deadly people smuggling, the provost suggested the Government’s scheme was effectively “state-sponsored people trafficking”. He explained: “It is paying people to take people abroad, and then for them to disappear abroad somewhere. So you can't really fight one thing with the same thing. What the government is trying to do is shift a problem to the other side of the world that we have to deal with here.”

He urged ministers to ditch the notion that asylum seekers “are all problems”, citing the contribution of members of his own church who have fled persecution and made valuable contributions to the local community in Scotland.

The National: Home Secretary Priti Patel has dismissed criticism from religious leaders Home Secretary Priti Patel has dismissed criticism from religious leaders

READ MORE: Jacob Rees-Mogg in public spat with archbishop over Rwanda scheme

“The Government does have to work out who needs to be able to get into this country,” Holdsworth told GMS. “But we've got to stop seeing people as being illegal because they're asylum seekers. No one's illegal. We've got to see the whole thing in a different way.”

He continued: “It was a no brainer to talk about this. There was something that people were very obviously outraged about and something that people needed to hear someone say: ‘No, this is wrong.’”

The Glasgow provost went on to speak about his condemnation of the partygate scandal after the Prime Minister and Chancellor were fined for their roles in lockdown bashes, with further fines on the horizon.

“I looked up the dates those parties were happening, and I can remember the actual funerals that I took at that time,” Holdsworth said.

“One of them in particular was for someone who died and you would you would normally have expected their funeral to be [attended by] a few hundred people … And I remember going to this funeral, and we're taking this funeral and there were only 10 of us. And I remember standing outside in the carpark of the crematorium afterwards, and we stood at a distance from one another, we kind of bowed at one another and we had to get into cars and all disappear.

“And not being able to be there together, not being able to comfort one another, not being able to do the things that you need to do at a funeral. And I remember that very day and that was one of the days on which one of these parties happened and I think that's the reason this stuff's not going to go away.”

Meanwhile Patel, in her joint letter with the Rwandan foreign minister, reiterated that her controversial plans were “bold and innovative” after religious leaders slammed the move.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby deemed the plans ungodly, while his counterpart in York also used his Easter sermon to deride the idea as “so depressing and distressing”.

But in the joint article, Patel and Biruta said: “We are taking bold and innovative steps and it’s surprising that those institutions that criticise the plans fail to offer their own solutions.”

Earlier, Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg had suggested that the Archbishop of Canterbury had misunderstood the aims of the policy.

On the partygate scandal, Energy minister Greg Hands said the PM will “have his say” on the fines in Parliament this week.

He told Sky News: “The Prime Minister will be speaking to Parliament … this week.

“Parliament returns tomorrow and the Prime Minister will have his say in Parliament, and will outline his version of events and face questions from MPs.”