By Bill Heaney reports from Westminster
SNP leader Ian Blackford, supported vociferously by Helensburgh MP Brendan O’Hara, took Boris Johnston to task at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons at Westminster today over the “shameful” government treatment of refugees from war-torn Ukraine.
Mr Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) told parliament: “We are now 14 days into Putin’s war. In that time, I have genuinely tried to work constructively with the UK Government and I will continue to seek to do that. Nobody should support the Government, however, when it comes to their response to the refugee crisis—760 visa approvals in two weeks is disgraceful.
“In that time, Poland has taken over 1.2 million refugees, Hungary has taken over 190,000 refugees, Germany has taken over 50,000 refugees, Italy has taken over 7,000 refugees and Ireland—a country of just over five million people—has given sanctuary to three times as many refugees as the United Kingdom.
“Those numbers do not lie; they tell a devastating truth. Does the Prime Minister find it acceptable that his Home Secretary [Priti Patel] has overseen one of the slowest, most bureaucratic and incompetent refugee responses in the whole of Europe?”
Ian Blackford, pictured right, said however: “I do not think the Prime Minister understands the scale of the challenge or the urgency. These are people fleeing war crimes, torn apart from their families as their homes are shelled, and the Home Secretary is blocking them with endless paperwork. That is not just incompetence; this is ideology.
“What we are doing is making sure that, in those neighbouring countries, the UK is out in front giving humanitarian assistance and we are in every capital.
“SNP Members laugh, they mock, they scoff, but this country is leading in every respect. We are also the single biggest donor of humanitarian aid to the Ukraine warzone—the single biggest donor. He should be proud of that.”
Ronnie Cowan, MP for Inverclyde, SNP, said: “I have a constituent whose elderly parents are seeking refuge in the United Kingdom from Ukraine. Her parents are both in their 80s. They have made it to Hungary. They went to the visa application centre, as instructed by the Home Office hotline, and they were told, ‘Come back on 22 March.’ Then, and only then, will their biometrics be processed. That is the harsh reality—no spin, no subterfuge. Prime Minister, when will refugees from Ukraine be welcomed into the United Kingdom?”