Sunday shows: Visa restrictions for Ukrainians “immoral”, Labour says

Elliot Chappell

Sunday Morning

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to introduce a “generous scheme” for accepting Ukrainian refugees and argued that maintaining current visa restrictions is “immoral”, telling viewers: “That’s unacceptable when you’re fleeing conflict with your children in your arms.”

  • On the conflict: “It is hugely important we support the Ukrainian people with more arms to fight and I’m pleased at the decision that has been made by Germany overnight. We have been calling for Russian to be cut out of the Swift banking system and we’re pleased to see that progress, also, overnight.”
  • He added: “But there’s more that we will need to do to stand with the Ukrainian people and that includes on sanctions. We want to see the insurance industry sanctioned. The government said it was bringing forward 100 names. Where are those names? And there are still people, sanctioned, who are on the list in the US but not on ours.”
  • Asked whether the UK should lift restrictions on Ukrainians coming to the UK: “We have to have a generous scheme that is equivalent to the scheme that we offered people after the Balkans crisis… Instead, we have a scheme where we’re asking people to jump through hoops.”
  • On the current scheme: “Why would we ask people what their salary levels are when they’re fleeing war? That is immoral. It is not in the tradition of this country. The Home Secretary has to do more and she should be acting quickly.”
  • Asked whether his claim that the government is applying normal visa restrictions was untrue: “You’re being asked have you got family ties, what are your salary levels, and effectively there’s a separate scheme for those who are already in the UK who are Ukrainian and those who are outside.”
  • Put to him that the government has made temporary concessions: “It’s not enough to say there are concessions. It’s not a concession to ask someone what their salary level is, Sophie. That’s unacceptable when you’re fleeing conflict with your children in your arms.”
  • Asked how many people should be admitted: “We said there should be a safe sanctuary scheme… similar to ones after the Balkans. The vast majority of those fleeing Ukraine will want to settle… in neighbouring countries. That’s the UN estimate. But there are some who will want to make their way to our country.”
  • On Vladimir Putin: “His language is alarming. He has threatened, effectively, Finland and Sweden. He is threatening the Balkan states. It’s incredibly important that we continue to increase troops on the eastern flank of NATO.”
  • On Russia’s nuclear capability: “He does have nuclear weapons and we could see a stand off with NATO. So, we must de-escalate and we must stop his ability to move forward.”
  • On Lammy’s vote against renewing Trident in 2016: “That was about an increase in the nuclear deterrent. None of us want to see nuclear weapons used. We should not use the phrase lightly, but of course Britain must do all it can with its NATO allies to stand up to Russia’s threats.”
  • On economic pain in the UK resulting from sanctions to Russia: “That’s why we need a windfall tax on the oil and gas companies who’ve made huge profits. That’s why the government should not be countenancing a tax rise in National Insurance, and that’s why they should be support people with their energy bills and not asking them to pay back a loan.”
  • On the energy supply in the UK: “We should have been diversifying our energy supply, making sure we were investing in renewables. We should not have made the decision that the government made around gas storage.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she “absolutely” supports people travelling from the UK to fight for Ukraine, describing the conflict as “prefabricated, preordained aggression to try and subvert a sovereign democracy”.

Asked whether Putin might use chemical or nuclear weapons, she told viewers: “I fear that this will be a bloody, long-running conflict, but senior Russian officials should be aware that if they do go into that arena, they could well be tried for war crimes in the future.”

She argued that “the pain that we will face in the UK”, as a result of the government introducing sanctions against Putin’s regime, is “nothing like the pain that people in Ukraine are currently facing, they are having to take up arms”.

Asked whether the government would waive visa restrictions for Ukrainian refugees, she said: “Britain has always welcomed refugees fleeing from war and we’re urgently looking at what more we can do to facilitate that, but ultimately what we need to make sure is that we protect Ukraine as a sovereign democracy. Ultimately, the people of Ukraine want to live in Ukraine.”

On a tweet from Tory MP Kevin Foster suggesting that Ukrainians can apply to come to the UK as fruit-pickers, she said: “I believe that tweet has been deleted. We are working on what more we can do to support refugees… But the number one thing we need to do is support the resistance effort.”

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

David Lammy said the UK needs to “support Ukraine as much as we can” against Russian aggression by both providing military equipment and increasing “troops on the eastern flank of NATO”.

  • On Ukraine: “We’ve got to support Ukraine as much as we can… It’s important that there is that military equipment to fight on the ground… We also have to increase our troops on the eastern flank of NATO.”
  • “The sanctions that are coming into place are very, very important to squeeze his finances and his ability to wage war. I raised last week that we should be placing sanctions on semiconductors that he needs for his military equipment. There’s more that I hope the government will do in the coming days.”
  • On Vladimir Putin and the offensive in Ukraine: “He has not met his objectives in the first four days of this conflict. He’s not met those objectives because the Ukrainians have taken up arms and we must support them in that endeavour.”
  • On Belarus: “Belarus has allowed its country to be used for the stationing of Russian troops who are attempting to enter the country. I am not sure that they will be seen as a fair-handed broker in this regard.”
  • “The only thing that should happen now is that the Russian army lay down their troops and exit Ukraine. Then, the talking can resume.”
  • On the current visa scheme for Ukrainians coming to the UK: “It’s bureaucratic. There’s a lot of red tape. It’s insisting that people demonstrate salaries, that they have family ties to this country. People are fleeing with their children in their arms. Why would you ask people how rich they are to enter our country?”
  • He added: “We should have a scheme and a process that’s similar to the scheme that we had after the Balkans… Suggesting that people should use the scheme that effectively fruit pickers come to this country on is totally, totally unacceptable.”
  • On the scheme the UK should have: “We should have a simplified process, a simplified scheme, as we’re seeing other colleagues doing in the UN. Not a scheme with lots of bureaucracy… It is not consistent, frankly, with what we have done in the past when people have been fleeing conflict.”
  • On Labour’s call for the Russian ambassador to be expelled: “Given the lies that he has told, consistent with the pariah state that Russia has now become… we should say to his Russian ambassador that he should leave the country.”
  • On Labour’s letter calling for sanctions: “It’s part of a package of measures that of course we’ve been calling for and that includes the export of luxury goods, alongside all of those banks… alongside naming the 100 oligarchs, dealing with those entities, dealing with family members, all of it consistent with us cutting Russia out of the financial system and squeezing Putin.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told viewers this morning: “If the Russians are serious about negotiations, they need to remove their troops from Ukraine. They cannot negotiate with a gun to the head of the Ukrainians.”

The minister said that the UK “does welcome refugees”, saying that “we want to do all we can to support Ukraine” and that the government is supporting the humanitarian response and looking “urgently” at what more it can do.

She argued that the conflict “could well be the beginning of the end for Putin”, adding: “And I fear that he is prepared to use the most unsavoury means in this war, but he should be aware that the International Criminal Court is already looking at what is happening in Ukraine.”

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