The horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine has finally displaced the saga of ‘PartyGate’ on the Westminster agenda.
My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine at this terrifying time and for Ukrainians here who are anxious about their family back home.
On 24 February, I raised my constituent’s case directly to the Prime Minister.
My question: In an earlier response, the Prime Minister suggested that this country would welcome people who were reuniting with family here. I have a constituent who is Ukrainian but a British citizen. She is trying to bring her mother from Ukraine, but has been turned down because she is over 18. Her mother is on her own and has no family, so naturally she is frightened. Will we see a change in the Home Office to enable British citizens who are Ukrainian to bring their vulnerable family here?
PM response: I thank the hon. Lady very much. I think I read out a helpline number in the House on Tuesday. I do not have it with me. There is a number both in Lviv and in this country, but if she could do me the favour of sending me the details, I will take them up.
Despite reassurances from the Prime Minister, it took six days of intensive pressure from MPs of all parties to get the Home Office to widen access to family visas to actually include ALL immediate family members. Myself and my staff raised my constituent’s case to the Home Office, the Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Minister for Immigration Kevin Foster, and I raised her situation at a number of briefings and meetings that I attended over the past few weeks.
Unfortunately, the delay means it will be harder for people to travel across Ukraine because of areas now controlled by the Russian army. Indeed, my constituent’s mother is now in a city under Russian siege, and Russia continues to breach the ceasefires which are essential for evacuation corridors.
While I welcome the improved visa offer for Ukrainian refugees, the UK Government are still making it more difficult for those fleeing war to come here compared to other countries across Europe, including Ireland, who are welcoming them with open arms.
My SNP colleagues and I continue to implore the UK Government to provide aid and assistance to Ukraine, including pushing for an open simplified visa-free entry for Ukrainian refugees, as in EU and Ireland.
How you can help:
Ukraine needs your help and support. I encourage you to donate to charities working on the ground in Poland. These charities can make much better use of cash donations than having to sort through second hand items. Ready Scot have published guidance here: https://ready.scot/humanitarian
This guidance covers donating money, donating goods, and volunteer options. There are more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees, and they need our help.