Ruth Cadbury Blasts Government Over Ukrainian Visas

Labels its approach to refugee crisis as 'heartless and incompetent'

Government believes letting people in without checks is a security risk
Government believes letting people in without checks is a security risk

Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury has joined condemnation of the government approach to Ukraine refugees branding it as ‘heartless and incompetent’.

Speaking after the latest reports that the Home Office had only issued 1,000 visas to Ukrainian refugees, she called for an urgent safe sanctuary route to be set up to allow the UK to accept more of the one million plus Ukrainians, mainly women and children, who are seeking asylum.

In a full statement Ms Cadbury said, ‘‘Over one million Ukrainians have already been forced out of Ukraine since Russia’s illegal and barbaric invasion. The UK needs to do our bit and provide a safe sanctuary route to allow those fleeing war to arrive in the UK. Other countries such as Poland have already done so and have taken in much larger number of refugees.

“It is shocking to see reports of Ukrainians being turned away from UK visa centres or being sent hundreds of miles away to simply get visas or passports stamped. The Home Secretary Priti Patel needs to urgently get a grip as the response of the Home Office has been both heartless and incompetent over the recent days.

“I know from listening to constituents that people locally want to see the Government doing much more to help those seeking asylum from Ukraine. The UK has a proud and historic tradition of helping those who are fleeing war and persecution- it is time for the Government to live up to this commitment and do the right thing to help the Ukrainian people in their hour of greatest need.’’

Reportedly, many Ukrainians finding themselves unable to contact the Home Office having reached France are taking ferries to Ireland and crossing into Northern Ireland. Priti Patel has expressed concern to the Irish government that its welcoming policy to Ukrainians fleeing the war is allowing them to reach the UK by the back door. Ms Patel angered the Irish government during Brexit negotiations by threatening to cause food shortages in Ireland if it did not accept the British government’s position.

Condemnation of the UK government's response to the refugee crisis has attracted criticism from across the political divide with Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke calling it a disgrace, while fellow Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale called on Ms Patel to resign after she seemingly misled the House over support that was being offered to Ukrainians in Calais.

The government has now said the temporary visa application centre for people applying to come to stay with Ukrainian family in the UK would open on Thursday in Lille, rather than in Calais.

One of the few Ukrainian families to be admitted to the UK
One of the few Ukrainian families to be admitted to the UK

During a visit to Estonia, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the Home Office approach to visas had been a "complete shambles that is diminishing our reputation across the world" and Ukraine's ambassador to the UK, Vadym Pystaiko, said refugees must not face bureaucratic hurdles, adding that most refugees did not pose a threat.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the UK should have as "as light touch as possible" for refugees, but said that checks were needed.

Ms Patel is claiming that a new "streamlined approach" would make the application process "quicker and simpler" but that checks still needed to be done digitally and that the Salisbury poisonings in 2018 showed that vigilance was required.

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March 10, 2022