A Tory Minister Has Suggested Ukrainian Refugees Come To The UK To Pick Fruit

Kevin Foster has been criticised for saying those fleeing war could apply to be "seasonal workers" in Britain.
Ukrainian refugees arrive from the Medyka pedestrian border crossing, in Przemsyl, eastern Poland.
Ukrainian refugees arrive from the Medyka pedestrian border crossing, in Przemsyl, eastern Poland.
WOJTEK RADWANSKI via Getty Images

A government minister has 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.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have fled their country as Russian continues its invasion.

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.”

Foster made his remarks in response to a tweet by Labour shadow minister Luke Pollard, which said the government had “a moral obligation” to accept those fleeing the war.

The immigration minister tweeted: “Hi Luke, as you will be well aware, there are a number of routes not least our seasonal worker scheme you will recall from your Shadow DEFRA days, which Ukrainians can qualify for, alongside the family route for those with family here.”

Kevin Foster's tweet, which has been deleted.
Kevin Foster's tweet, which has been deleted.
Twitter

Pollard replied: “If your hot take on the refugee crisis is to say that those fleeing war in Ukraine can pick fruit in February on farms in Britain I think you may need to think again. We need a proper safe route to sanctuary for people fleeing Ukraine. This is not it.”

In response to Foster’s tweet, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “My God. People are fleeing war in Europe, the like we haven’t seen in generations, in search of swift sanctuary. Yet the immigration minister says the answer is they should put in an application to pick Britain’s fruit & veg.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel is under pressure to waive the current immigration rules to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to settle in the UK.

Former Tory Cabinet ministers, including George Osborne and Rory Stewart, are among those urging the government to act.

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