Priti Patel Rejects Demands That All Ukrainian Refugees Be Offered Safety In The UK

People crowd at the Uzhhorod-Vysne Nemecke checkpoint on the Ukraine-Slovakia border, Zakarpattia Region, western Ukraine. (SerhiiHudak/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images) (Photo: Future Publishing via Getty Images)
People crowd at the Uzhhorod-Vysne Nemecke checkpoint on the Ukraine-Slovakia border, Zakarpattia Region, western Ukraine. (SerhiiHudak/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images) (Photo: Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Priti Patel has rejected demands that all Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion be offered sanctuary in the UK.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, the home secretary said the government would relax visa rules to allow up to 100,000 Ukrainians the right to seek safety in Britain.

Under the scheme, Patel said British nationals and Ukrainians settled in the UK will be able to bring “immediate” family members to Britain.

They will be able to work and have access to public services.

But Patel said welcoming all Ukrainian’s would threaten the UK “homeland”.

“Over the weekend I have seen members of this House house calling for full visa waivers for all Ukrainians,” she said.

“Security and biometric checks are a fundamental part of our visa approval process worldwide and will continue.

“That is vital to keep British citizens safe and to ensure we helping those in genuine need - particularly as Russian troops are now infiltrating Ukraine and merging into Ukrainian forces.

“Intelligence reports also state the presence of extremist groups and organisations who threaten the region but also our domestic homeland.”

She added: “The approach we are taking is based on the strongest security advice.”

Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson, said the visa changes were confusing.

“Why not do the simple thing, the just thing, and lift visa restrictions all together?” he said.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said the details of who could apply for safety in the UK remained “extremely unclear”.

Alistair Carmichael, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson, said the UK “must not abandon Ukrainians in their hour of need”

“Ukrainians are fleeing for their lives. They deserve far better than just more spin and confusion from our government,” he said.

“The home secretary should come back to parliament urgently to announce a full refugee scheme to resettle Ukrainians in the UK.”

The United Nations has estimated more than 500,000 people have left Ukraine since Vladimir Putin ordered the assault last week.

The European Union is preparing to allow Ukrainians the right to live and work in any country in the bloc for up to three years.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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