Tory MP Opposed To UK Taking More Ukrainian Refugees Faces Backlash

Just 760 visas have been issued – but Daniel Kawczynski says it would be "immoral and illiterate" to give out more.
Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski
Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski
House of Commons via PA Wire/PA Images

A Conservative MP has prompted a huge wave of criticism for saying it would be “immoral and illiterate” for the UK to take in more Ukrainian refugees.

Daniel Kawczynski hit out at “British left-wing parties” as he said people desperately fleeing the warzone should remain in “front line” states.

The Warsaw-born MP for Shrewsbury, who came to the UK from Poland as a child, faced an immediate backlash on social media.

The UK has faced criticism for not doing enough to provide an escape route for Ukrainians – most starkly on the front cover of the right-leaning The Spectator magazine.

The government has been condemned by charities, opposition politicians and France after its insistence that refugees first acquire a visa, meaning some Ukrainians have been stuck in the French city of Calais, unable to enter Britain.

The European Union, by contrast, has agreed to grant temporary residency to Ukrainians fleeing the invasion and given them access to employment, social welfare and housing for up to three years.

Hundreds of thousands have poured into Poland, Romania, Slovakia and elsewhere – but even remote Ireland has taken in 1,800 Ukrainian refugees in Ireland since the outbreak of war. But just 760 visas have been granted for Ukrainians to come to the UK.

Underlining the concern is not limited to the “left-wing”, senior Tory MPs have reportedly even called for the home secretary Priti Patel to quit over the chaotic response to the crisis.

A cabinet source told The Times: “Priti talked about everything the home office was doing but it quickly became clear she was just going round in circles.”

But despite the widespread criticism of the policy, Kawczynski tweeted: “British left-wing parties demand Britain takes in more Ukrainian refugees.

“This is illiterate and immoral. When war is over Ukrainians will need to return home to rebuild their country.

“We should be supporting Ukrainian refugees in frontline states like Poland and Romania.”

Former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith led the criticism online. “Daniel doesn’t allow responses but if he did I expect lots of people would tell him it’s perfectly possible to do both assuming you have an effective home secretary and haven’t downgraded our international aid department and budget,” she wrote.

Earlier this month, a government minister suggested people fleeing war in Ukraine should apply to pick fruit in the UK.

Kevin Foster said the refugees could use the Home Office’s “seasonal worker scheme” to gain the right to settle in Britain.

Foster’s comments, made in a now-deleted tweet, provoked outrage.

One Conservative source said: “I’m afraid Foster is a few fruit pickers short of a harvest.”

In January, Kawczynski was suspended from the House of Commons for one day after he undermined an apology he gave for bullying staff.

He issued a personal apology in the chamber over the matter and insisted he is committed to “learning from the mistakes” he has made.

He later gave media interviews appearing to call into doubt the sincerity of his earlier apology.

The United Nations estimates that more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia started bombarding its neighbour.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, has called on the UK government to lift visa requirements for refugees, as he revealed that “bureaucratic hassles” prevented even his own wife from receiving the right documents.

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