'Are You Not Ashamed?' Minister Taken To Task Over Ukrainian Visa Delays

Kit Malthouse said he understood why people were 'disappointed' that only 12,000 refugees had arrived in the UK so far.
Kit Malthouse said the UK had received about 80,000 applications for visas so far.
Kit Malthouse said the UK had received about 80,000 applications for visas so far.
Sky News

A minister has said he understands why people are “disappointed” with delays to the Ukrainian visa scheme — but insisted the government was now “motoring” ahead.

The government’s scheme to welcome Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion has been criticised for being slow, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic.

So far, only 12,000 Ukrainian refugees have actually made it into the UK — a figure that comes in stark contrast to Ireland, which has said it will take in 40,000 people by the end of this week.

Police and crime minister Kit Malthouse was taken to task over the figures by Trevor Phillips on Sky News.

Phillips asked: “Do you feel a bit ashamed that our neighbours, the Irish, reckon that they will welcome as many as 40,00 Ukrainian refugees by the end of this month, while we have managed to admit 12,000 of the 70 or 80,000 who would like to come here?”

Malthouse replied: “Well Trevor, you’re right, we’ve had about just shy of 80,000 applications for visas.

“Of those we’ve issued just over 40,000, and of that 40,000, 12,000 have come to the UK,

“The difference between 40,000 and 12 might be for a variety of reasons...”

Phillips interjected: “But it’s three times for a country which has a population a fraction of ours — come on.”

“I completely understand,” Malthouse admitted.

“And I know that people are disappointed with the progress of the visa regime.

“The home secretary has been out this week expressing her frustration and regret that it hasn’t been quicker but we are motoring now.”

Malthouse went on to say that some refugees who were in receipt of UK visa could be waiting in Poland or other neighbouring countries “praying upon hope upon hope that they can return to their country”.

The figures come as Boris Johnson made a historic visit to Kyiv on Saturday, taking a tour around the capital with president Volodymyr Zelensky.

The surprise visit came after the UK announced that it would provide Ukraine with 120 armoured vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems, in addition to £100m worth of high-grade military equipment.

The UK will send more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, another 800 anti-tank missiles and high-tech loitering munitions for precision strikes.

The UK is also guaranteeing £385m in World Bank lending to Ukraine, taking its total loan guarantee to up to $1 billion.

Patel was forced to apologise on Friday for the delays to the scheme, admitting it has “taken time” but that “any new scheme takes time”.

There are currently two routes through which Ukrainians can apply to come to the UK.

The first is a family visa and sponsorship scheme, whereby Ukrainians with family in the UK can apply to join them.

Those without relatives can instead apply to have a business or charity sponsor their passage to the UK.

The UK then opened up the Homes for Ukraine scheme which will enable Brits to offer a spare room in their home to someone fleeing Russia’s invasion.


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