Minister Struggles To Justify UK's Slow Response To Ukrainian Refugees

Simon Hart claimed there was no time for "navel-gazing" as Kay Burley put him on the spot over refugee numbers.
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart defended the UK's approach to the Ukrainian refugees
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart defended the UK's approach to the Ukrainian refugees
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Welsh secretary Simon Hart promised the UK was doing all it can to help the refugees escaping the Russian invasion, but struggled to explain why so few fleeing Ukrainians had actually been welcomed to Britain on Monday.

Approximately 25,000 visas have been granted to Ukrainians looking to come to the UK since the war started even though, according to the UN, more than four million people have fled Ukraine in total.

Simon Hart, Welsh secretary, told Sky’s Kay Burley on Monday that Ukraine clearly needs help.

He said: “We haven’t got the time to navel-gaze over this. I think we are doing a reasonable job. We can always do more, we can always go further, we can always go faster.”

″We’re not doing a reasonable job in as far as letting people into the country so far,” Burley pointed out. “Will the 11,000, 10,000 Ukrainians who want to come to Wales be allowed to come?”

“I hope so,” Hart replied. “It’s a matter for Welsh government as I say. We’re working with them very closely, we want that to happen.

“There shouldn’t be any limit to this, we’re responding to need.”

Burley asked: “Why is it taking so long?”

Hart replied: “I would love to be able to come here and say we can just flick our fingers and everything would have instantaneously.”

He said they were trying to keep the “bureaucracy to an absolute minimum”, even though the UK is currently the only country to insist the refugees go through a visa process.

Burley also pointed out that it’s 38 days since Ukraine was invaded by Russia, and yet just a “handful” of Ukrainians have been able to come into the country.

He replied: “I think that’s a bit harsh. We’ve already approved 25,000 visas.”

Burley tried to interrupt to say only around 2,000 people have actually come into the country off the back of that, but Hart said: “Already there are families arriving in Wales.

“We’re not here to stand in the way of any of that, sit here with a clipboard and say no - we actually want to move heaven and earth to make sure we get people into Wales safely for as long as they need to stay in order to be safeguarded.

Burley then pushed for more details on the families Hart claimed were arriving in Wales now, but he replied: “I can’t tell you how many there are across Wales, this is an ever-changing picture.”

He continued: “All I’m saying is that anyone who needs to come, who wants to come, can come.”

The cabinet minister added: “Why would we want to slow that down?”

He also claimed the UK is determined to keep up its reputation as a country “of sanctuary” and said checks are still needed.


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