Refugees Minister Richard Harrington Quits Government

Conservative peer says his job is "essentially complete".
Aaron Chown - PA Images via Getty Images

Richard Harrington, the minister in charge of the Ukrainian refugee programme, has resigned from the government.

Speaking to Times Radio on Sunday, Lord Harrington said his job of setting up the schemes was now complete and Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak could use the “machinery” how they wished.

“I felt it was an opportune moment,” he said of his decision to quit. “It certainly was not a political statement about this leader or that leader or anything like that.”

Harrington said the “argument is won” on welcoming Ukrainian refugees and it but all decisions are for the new prime minister”.

“Never again will we have people arrive in the UK and go into hotels without a plan, as happened with those coming from Afghanistan and from the Ukraine, where at the beginning we didn’t have any idea where to put them all,” he said.

“I was brought in to do a very specific job, which was to set up working machinery across Government to deal with helping the Ukrainians in need,” Lord Harrington said.

“I believe we now have a process and procedure in place that means there won’t necessarily be the need for a minister like myself.

“I’m not walking out on the role or either candidate and will continue to support where helpful. But what I was specifically asked to do is essentially complete so it seems right that I make clear to both leadership contenders that they may be able to save on a ministerial post when they take over.

“Or at least have the option to shape the role for the next phase with a new person now I’ve established a successful system.”

Over 100,000 Ukrainians have come to the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine Scheme since March.

Truss is the overwhelming favourite to takeover from Boris Johnson as prime minister, following a bitter leadership campaign against rival Rishi Sunak.

The winner of the contest will be announced on Monday and the new PM will take office on Tuesday.

Johnson has been praised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He wrote a piece in the Mail On Sunday and also spoke to the Sunday Times about his gratitude to the outgoing Prime Minister.

Zelenskyy also expressed his hope for future “close relations” with Johnson’s successor, who could be in line for an invitation to visit Kyiv.

He told the Sunday Times that it would be a “priority” to extend an invitation to the next prime minister, while he also admitted he was “concerned” when he heard Mr Johnson was resigning.

“When we learned that there would be a change of government, all of us were concerned,” he told the paper.

“Johnson was supporting us and a lot depends on the leader. The leader is the one who communicates. The leader is the one that mediates between a country and its people, and a leader has an impact upon society.”

Speaking about Johnson’s successor, he said of that relationship: “I can only pray that it will be at the same level as I had with Prime Minister Johnson.”

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