UK Politics I Statement on Home for Ukranians Refugees I Monday, March 14, 2022:
UK politics live: Gove makes statement on homes for Ukrainian refugees as website for scheme opens
In the Commons Labour’s Tan Dhesi described the government’s response to the refugee crisis as “pathetic” and linked that to the government’s hostile enviroment policy.
That prompted a mini-eruption from Gove. “I’ve had it up to here with people trying to suggest that this country is not generous,” he said. The hostile environment policy started under Labour, he claimed. And he went on:So could we just chuck it when it comes the partisan nonsense and get on with delivery.
In the Commons Gove was asked about this tweet from ITV’s Paul Brand, saying he could not get on the website to sign up.
Gove said that Brand was having a problem with his internet connection and that his colleague, Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, had already signed up.
Brand did not manage to get on the website, and complete the application form, eventually.
Gove said he expected that, as the scheme started, it would attract Ukrainians wanting to move to areas where there were already other Ukrainians living.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, says she hopes to speak to Michael Gove later to get him to finalise how Scotland can work as a super-sponsor for refugees.
Gove says he wants to enable Scottish and Welsh governments to act as super sponsors for refugees
Stuart C McDonald, the SNP spokesperson for levelling up, asked if communities groups as well as individuals would get the £350 a month.
And would the government let the Scottish and Welsh governments act as super-sponsors?
Gove said the £350 was there for individuals. But charities would have a vital role to play.
And he said he was grateful to the Scottish and Welsh government’s for their offer to act as super-sponsors. “We’re doing everything we can in order to facilitate that,” he said.
Responding to Nandy, Gove said the government had been working with NGOs to ensure people could be matched to refugees. NGOs had welcomed this approach, he said.
And he insisted that he had been consulting local government.
Additional funding was available for councils that took refugees, to fund school places, he said.
He said vetting checks were being streamlined, so they could be carried out quickly. But it was important to ensure vulnerable people were placed where they would be safe.
Gove told Nandy her concerns had been addressed, and that she should support the scheme.
In response Lisa Nandy, the shadow work and pensions seceretary, said the existing system was too bureaucratic. Refugees were being asked to upload documents they might not have, she said.
Only 4,000 visas have been issued, she said.
She also asked why people wanting to host Ukrainian refugees were being expected to find the refugees they would help.
She accused Gove of not offering enough support to councils who will have to help deal with his scheme.
She also said refugees were being turned back at Calais, and left freezing.The British people who have come forward have shown that we are a far better country than our government.
Nandy said, under these plans, the government might be failing the people of Ukraine twice.
Michael Gove used his statement to summarise some of the steps already taken to simplify the visa application process for some Ukrainians.
He said the number of Ukrainians arriving in the country was “rapidly increasing”.
He said Homes for Ukraine, the new scheme, would allow more people to come. He particularly thanked Richard Harrington, the new minister for refugees, for his work on the project.
The scheme would benefit Ukrainians with no families ties with the UK. (Ukrainians with close relatives in the country can use the existing visa system.)
Gove said people of any nationality would be able to sponsor Ukrainian refugees. And hosts can have any immigration status, as long as they have at least six months leave to remain.
Sponors will receive £350 a month, he said. They will be tax free, and will not affect benefits entitlement, he said.
UPDATE: This is what Gove told MPs on why sponsors would have to match themselves up with the refugees they would be helping.Because we want the scheme to be up and running as soon as possible, Homes for Ukraine will initially facilitate sponsorship between people with known connections.
We will rapidly expand the scheme in a phased way with charities, churches and community groups to ensure many more prospective sponsors can be matched with Ukrainians who need help, and we are of course working closely with the devolved administrations to make sure that their kind offers of help are also mobilised.
Michael Gove is making his statement to MPs now.
This is from ITV’s Paul Brand summarising the key points.
Government website opens for people interesting in hosting Ukrainian refugees
Here is the government website where individuals and organisations interested in hosting Ukrainian refugees can register their interest in the scheme.
Gove publishes Q&A about how Homes for Ukraine scheme will work
Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, is due to make a Commons statement within the next few minutes about the Homes for Ukraine scheme being set up to allow people to put up Ukrainian refugees in their homes.
Some details were released over the weekend, and Gove’s department has now published a Q&A about the scheme on its website.
The final Covid travel restrictions for England are to be abandoned from Friday, my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports.
Keir Starmer has said “understanding what it means to be a country” in the relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland “tells us something” about the war in Ukraine, PA Media reports. In a speech at the London Irish Centre ahead of St Patrick’s Day, Starmer said:This relationship [between the UK and Ireland] requires respect – equal respect – and understanding what it means to be a country.
I think it tells us something about what’s going on in the world, particularly Ukraine, because at the heart of the conflict in Ukraine is a simple thing, the wish of a country to decide for itself its own future ...
I didn’t think in my lifetime I would see Russian tanks rolling into a European country, soldiers kissing their children goodbye as they then stay to fight for their city and for the country, the awful bombing of hospitals. None of us thought we would see that.
Ireland was part of the UK until it gained independence 100 years
ago, at the end of the first world war. Ukraine also declared
independence for the first time in the modern era near the end of the
first world war, although it had to wait until the fall of the Soviet
Union in 1991 before independence was fully established.
UK to help ICC fund and manage investigations into war crimes in Ukraine, Raab says
Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy PM, has said Britain is to provide a package of financial and technical support to the international criminal court (ICC) to investigate potential war crimes in Ukraine. Speaking after a visit to the ICC in The Hague in the Netherlands, he said Russian commanders needed to know they would be held to account. He said:The commanders on the ground – those who may be receiving illegal orders as well as those in the Kremlin – need to know that right now. I have made clear we will provide a package of support – financial and technical support – for the ICC to deliver on its mandate.
Right now there is a big emphasis on preservation of evidence of war crimes that may or may not have happened in the various different reports that we have seen but also in what is going to be coming down the line as Putin responds in ever more barbaric ways to the situation, stuttering and stumbling, that he has been driving on the ground in terms of his own military campaign.
Appeals to a ruling against legal challenges to the lawfulness of the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol have been dismissed, PA Media reports. PA says:The court of appeal in Belfast heard appeals to the ruling last June by Mr Justice Colton rejecting arguments that the contentious post-Brexit trading arrangements breached the terms of the 1800 Acts of Union and the 1998 legislation that underpins the Good Friday peace agreement.
The action was pursued in the names of unionists and Brexiteers from across the UK, including former DUP leader Arlene Foster, former UUP leader Steve Aiken, TUV leader Jim Allister, Belfast agreement architect Lord Trimble, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib and Lady Hoey.
An adjoined case was taken by Belfast pastor Clifford Peeples.
Appeals in both cases were dismissed.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, says Scottish government ministers will not be getting a pay rise this year.