Lib Dems adopt most ambitious policy in UK to help Ukrainian refugees

Ongoing bureaucratic barriers to refugees fleeing Ukraine and the appalling UK Government attitude to them, the bravery of young political activists in Ukraine who are having to defend their country against invasion, the courage of young activists in Russia who are protesting Putin’s actions, the need to end our dependence on others for energy supply, the importance of standing up for the right of sovereign nations to be part of Europe, the chilling prospect of how we respond to escalating brutality from Putin’s army. These were just some of the points mentioned in an emotional and powerful debate on the situation in Ukraine this morning.

This afternoon at 5:40 pm, we’ll be hearing from Kira Rudyk, the leader of our Ukrainian sister party Holos from Kyiv. If you want to hear her, it’s not too late to register here.

The policy we passed today was the most ambitious to help Ukrainian refugees of any major UK political party.

We call on the government to enable refugees from Ukraine to come to the UK without having to apply for a visa, to work with allies to create accessible routes to safety for all refugees displaced from Ukraine, to provide economic, military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and to reverse the international development budget cut.

The party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said even the government’s latest sponsor scheme would still force Ukrainian refugees to “jump through bureaucratic hoops” to come to the UK.

Ukrainians have been let down by the UK government in their hour of need. Priti Patel is presiding over a chaotic shambles – and the result is that Ukrainians who we should be supporting are being turned away simply because they don’t have the right paperwork.

Even the government’s latest scheme will still leave refugees having to jump through bureaucratic hoops before coming to the UK.

The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those forced to flee war and persecution. Yet Conservative Ministers’ actions these past three weeks have been shameful.

We must now stand with the people of Ukraine. The Home Secretary must urgently let Ukrainians come to the UK without having to apply for a visa.

During the debate, Layla attacked the Government for not doing enough to sanction Russian oligarchs, saying that we should be seizing the assets of many more and turning their mansions into homes for Ukrainian refugees. As Peter Banks, summating the motion said, we need to stop the flow of dirty Russian money to the Kremlin coffers.

At lunchtime, Ed will be calling on Boris Johnson to sack Priti Patel for her “utterly shameful” response to refugees:

Priti Patel’s response to this humanitarian catastrophe – the biggest in Europe since the Second World War – is utterly shameful. She has answered desperation with delays, crisis with confusion and pain with paperwork.

The incompetence and indifference we have seen from the Home Secretary does not befit our country, with its proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need. It does not befit the British people, with all their compassion and generosity.

It couldn’t be clearer that Priti Patel is not up to the job. The buck stops with the Prime Minister. So Boris Johnson must sack her now.”

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3 Comments

  • Brad Barrows 13th Mar '22 - 11:55am

    “… of any major UK political party”
    I assume this has been carefully worded to exclude the SNP which has a much larger number of MPs in the House of Commons but has a lower vote share across the whole of the UK than the Liberal Democrats. As it is, the SNP Government seems to be taking a very positive stance in terms of wanting to be a ‘super sponsor’ to help take in and support Ukrainian refugees.

  • Whilst “Ongoing bureaucratic barriers to refugees fleeing Ukraine and the appalling UK Government attitude to them” are the first major hurdle refugees encounter, we shouldn’t forget that there are parts of the “well-meaning establishment” that are also hindering matters.

    Someone needs to take the Refugee Council to one side and introduce them to the concept of Agile and the ways the third-sector are already using the Internet to deliver support… From their media interviews, it would seem they don’t actually want refugees in the UK until there is some “official” support network in place and a full-blown vetting process in place for those wishing to home refugees.

    I get these refugees will be suffering shock and trauma, however, getting them a bed in safe country is a good first step in recovery, tools to help grassroots development of support networks will go a long way to progressing that recovery.

  • James Dapre 13th Mar '22 - 7:23pm

    Refugees need homes to live in, possibly permanently. Possibilities in the current housing stock are:
    1. Holiday lets
    2. Air bnbs
    3. Second homes – permanent occupation of these would reverse the damage to local communities caused by absent owners

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