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I know Kigali is Rwandan capital, says Therese Coffey

In Europe
January 18, 2024

Former deputy prime minister Therese Coffey has hit back at “keyboard snipers” who claim she did not know Kigali was the capital of Rwanda.

In a Commons debate on Wednesday, the Tory MP criticised Labour’s Yvette Cooper for referring to the “Kigali government”.

She told MPs the shadow home secretary “cannot even get the name of the country right”.

Kigali is Rwanda’s capital and seat of the country’s central government.

Responding to criticism on social media, Ms Coffey said referring to a Kigali government was disrespectful.

“I would not call the French government, the Paris government,” she added.

Ms Coffey served as deputy prime minister for six weeks under Liz Truss, but was removed by her successor Rishi Sunak.

She had previously headed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Department for Work and Pensions under Boris Johnson. Ms Coffey resigned from the cabinet on 13 November 2023 ahead off Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle.

Speaking during a Commons debate on the Rwanda Bill, Ms Coffey said Labour had repeatedly misnamed Rwanda by “talking about the Kigali government”.

Ms Cooper can be seen laughing with shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock after Ms Coffey’s comments.

In a social media post, Ms Coffey said: “Some keyboard snipers moaning that I criticised the opposition for referring to the Kigali government, not the Rwandan government.

“I would not call the French government, the Paris government nor the Scottish government, the Edinburgh government. Why disrespect Rwanda?”

Critics have pointed out Ms Coffey has referred to “Holyrood, Cardiff or Stormont” when referring to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Senedd and Northern Ireland assembly, respectively.

Ms Coffey also repeatedly referred to “Brussels” on social media when referring to the European Union, which has its headquarters in the Belgian capital.

Ms Coffey argued she was well acquainted with Kigali from her time as environment secretary.

“The Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol is one of the most important agreements to strive towards net zero focusing on the phase down of HFCs. It is a key part of keeping 1.5 alive,” she argued.

Mr Sunak’s flagship Rwanda Bill, which seeks to revive the government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to the east African country, survived a Tory Rebellion on Wednesday to pass through Commons.

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