Boris Johnson accused of rejecting Ukrainian refugees to pander to Brexit voters

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Boris Johnson accused of rejecting Ukrainian refugees to pander to Brexit voters

The head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi tweeted yesterday that the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country had reached tw

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The head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi tweeted yesterday that the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country had reached two million. The Home Office reported yesterday that the UK had accepted just 300 refugees so far – although they add that 17,700 to re-join relatives had been started.

Former Justice Secretary David Gauke has argued that the war in Ukraine has exposed the Tory’s “incompetent” foreign policy, and accused it of trying to appeal to xenophobic Brexit voters.

Mr Gauke resigned from the party when Mr Johnson became leader in July 2019, and has now stated that the UK’s low intake of refugees is “the biggest weakness” of its response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Yesterday the BBC reported that around 600 refugees were stuck in Calais, and many were saying they were being turned away for lack of paperwork.

The UK’s humanitarian response to the crisis came under further fire when Boris appeared to contradict home secretary Priti Patel on plans to open a third route.

Mr Johnson said that the UK had “two very, very generous routes already” – just hours after Ms Patel said she was considering a third.

This third route was then clarified by No. 10 to be a community sponsorship scheme that had already been announced.

At a seminar on the future of the Conservative party organised by Reform Scotland, Mr Gauke described the confusion as a mixture of “incompetence” and a desperate attempt to maintain an anti-immigration ideology.

He accused Mr Johnson of playing politics in the face of the crisis, stating he was looking ahead “to a couple of years’ time when we have got large numbers of Ukrainians here.

“A large chunk of the voters that matter to the government are going to be pretty fed up with them and view them in the same way that they view the Poles, the Lithuanians and the Latvians in 2016.

“They will say ‘this is not what the Conservative government was supposed to deliver’ and I fear that is what is driving the thinking here.

“They have an eye on a particular part of the electorate and want to avoid problems in a couple of years time.

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He stated that “it could be very uncomfortable for the Conservative party to be fighting a general election led by somebody who, if he is found to have broken rules, has not been forthcoming about that”.

A UK government spokesman said: “Last week we announced a new sponsorship route which will allow Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK to be sponsored to come to the UK.

“This is alongside our Ukraine Family Scheme, which has already seen thousands of people apply, as well as changes to visas so that people can stay in the UK safely.

“The routes we have put in place follow extensive engagement with Ukrainian partners. This is a rapidly moving and complex picture and as the situation develops we will continue to keep our support under constant review.”



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