Ukraine: Russian pundit demands all-out war after attack
The Home Secretary has come under fire this week over the Government’s plans to tackle illegal immigration. Official forecasts predict 65,000 people could cross the Channel in small boats this year. Single men arriving on boats or lorries will now be given a one-way ticket to Rwanda under new Government plans, a move which the United Nations said raised “a number of human rights concerns”. The latest announcement comes as the UK falls behind its European neighbours in accepting refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Latest figures show just 12,000 refugees have arrived in the UK since Russia’s invasion began, compared to 310,000 in Germany and almost 100,000 in Italy.
The British Red Cross said refugees face a “long, complex” application process, with a number of visa requirements proving challenging for those wishing to enter the UK.
Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale told Express.co.uk earlier this month that the Home Office bureaucracy is “unbelievable”.
He said: “The Home Secretary says rather grandly, ‘Well, we have to be careful because Russian spies could come in posing as Ukrainians’.
“From your memory and mine, the last two Russian spies that came over to try and poison the Skripals in Salisbury came in on visitors visas.
The UK’s handling of the Ukraine refugee crisis has been heavily criticised.
More than 4.7 million people have fled Ukraine.
“That’s how good we are at stopping Russian spies coming in.
“If the Russians want to get spies into the country, they will, as I’m sure we get spies into Russia.”
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury in March 2018.
They spent several weeks in hospital in critical condition, before being discharged.
British authorities later identified two Russian nationals as suspects of the Skripals’ poisoning, alleging that they were active officers in Russian military intelligence.
The UK has welcomed barely 12,000 refugees, compared to more than 300,000 in Germany.
More than 4.7 million Ukrainians have fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded their country 50 days ago.
The rest of Europe has dropped its visa requirements, welcoming Ukrainians with open arms.
Sir Roger said: “I said at the beginning, before Keir Starmer or anyone else was saying it, that we should have adopted the same system as the rest of Europe, and indeed countries beyond Europe, and just taken anybody with a valid, current Ukrainian passport, or children without passports if they were with an adult with a passport.
“And we should have done that.
“We should have married up people with receiving families as swiftly as possible.”
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Britons wishing to welcome Ukrainians have expressed their frustrations.
Sir Roger, whose North Thanet constituency stretches from Margate to Herne Bay, has been actively involved in the welcoming of refugees to British soil.
He personally arranged for Sergei and Oksana Koletvinov and their children to stay with his daughter last month in a village just outside Canterbury.
He also has a number of constituents willing to open their homes to those fleeing the war, but are finding the process extremely frustrating.
According to The Telegraph, the UK has doubled its numbers of approved visas under the Homes for Ukraine scheme in the last week, with the total figure now passing 25,000.
Yet the process is still proving painstakingly slow.
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Caravan firm Preston Caravans and Motorhomes took four vehicles with humanitarian aid to the Polish border recently.
They returned with just nine people despite having enough space for 36.
Charlotte Campbell, the firm’s director, told the BBC this week: “So many of the visa applications had failed or there had been delays or issues that we couldn’t bring as many as we could and it was just awful to have to say, ‘I wish I could’.
“You feel like you’ve failed and especially when the people we have brought back were so grateful and so lovely and so happy to get to their sponsors.
“You just thought, if I could have just done this for everybody, it would have taken a little edge off feeling like this is such a massive issue.”
The Home Secretary has previously apologised over the “frustrating” visa delays, with a Government spokesperson saying on Thursday the system has been revamped in recent weeks.
The spokesperson told the BBC: “We continue to process visas as quickly as possible.
“The Home Office has made changes to streamline the visa system – including simplifying the forms, and boosting staff.”