When the Labour MP Nadia Whittome asked the prime minister last week if his government would commit to accepting all Ukrainian refugees who wished to come to the UK, Boris Johnson didn’t sidestep the question he told the Commons “This country will continue to do what it has always done and receive those who are fleeing in fear of persecution. That is what we will do.” But his words yet again appear to ring hollow.
While many in Europe have opened their border with open arms to those fleeing the war in Ukraine, offering solace. On Thursday, the UK had announced it would stop accepting visa applications from Ukrainians, meaning there is no safe and legal route to seek asylum. After the PM vowing that the UK will be “very generous” with Ukraine refugees coming to Britain.
In comparison, the EU’s announced on Sunday evening to take in refugees for up to 3 years without applying for asylum. Ireland has waived its visa requirements too.
Mr. Johnson said the UK has a system that permits people to enter for the longer term when they fear persecution, reunite with family, or “other purposes”. But this means that, under current rules, Ukrainian refugees fleeing the invasion who do not have immediate family connections to the UK will be denied entry. The Home Office minister Kevin Foster deleted a tweet saying that Ukrainians seeking to flee the ongoing conflict should apply for the seasonal worker visa. So what are the UK’s visa rules?
This all comes when the PM faces backlash at the controversial nationality and borders bill, which goes through the House of Lords’ report stage. More than 1,000 faith leaders have signed a letter to the prime minister urging him to reconsider.