The last 24 hours has seen the Government come under huge pressure to issue Visas to allow Ukrainians to come to the UK to escape the fighting. While Boris has made some positive noises, Priti Patel and the Home Office are holding their position – only immediate family members of a British citizen can come here. No-one else.
The Home Office has a hard line on anyone coming to the UK who might want to claim asylum as a refugee. There are no legal routes into the UK for any refugees or asylum seekers under any circumstances. That’s why they cross the channel in little boats. We have closed down all safe and legal routes for refugees to come to the UK.
The Home Office fears that if we allow a safe and legal route for Ukrainians we will have to make the same facility available to other people from other conflicts, and Priti Patel is determined never to allow that to happen.
Every one of those little boats crossing the channel will contain people with just as great a need as the Ukrainians, and just as much reason to come here. We were happy to watch them sink and drown, and the Home Office will want to treat the Ukrainians the same way.
And even if we did allow them over here we have no capacity to deal with them.
Priti Patel is committed to reducing the number of people being given the right to remain in the UK. The problem is that the overwhelming majority of people who arrive here do have a legitimate reason to remain, which makes it hard to reduce the numbers.
Instead Patel has simply slowed down the process. If it takes longer for claims to be processed she can show a temporary fall in the number of successful applications. There are currently 60,000 people who have waited over 6 months to have their applications dealt with – some wait years.
All of our asylum seeker accommodation is full to overflowing due to the delays. That’s why we are putting people up in hotels – so that the Home Office can fiddle their targets. If we solve the problem of the delays there will be a temporary increase in the number of successful claims and that will make Priti look back.
And all the while we were doing this we were issuing teir 1 “golden” visas to Russian oligarchs.
This is what taking back control meant. The ability to act in a shameful way and duck out of our legal obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers.
I suspect in this case Boris will over rule Patel, and maybe that creates an opportunity to try and reform the cruel and incompetent system we currently have
But don’t bet on it.