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Priti Patel Promises To Publish Ukrainian Refugee Figures Following Confusion Over Numbers


4 min read

Priti Patel has pledged to publish the exact number of Ukrainians coming to the UK under the new visa schemes following claims that only a small number had been approved.

It had been reported that only 50 visas had been issued under the Ukraine family scheme as of Sunday, but the home secretary insisted that these figures were “completely inaccurate”.

She added that around 14,000 Ukrainians had applied to the scheme since it opened last week, and that details of a second scheme allowing companies to sponsor visas would be coming shortly.

“It's important for all colleagues in the House to know that the first quality assurance figures on the Ukrainian family scheme will come this evening and they're going to be published this evening,” she told MPs in the Commons on Monday.

“The figures that are public are absolutely inaccurate, and they have not been assured by the Home Office.”

There has been considerable confusion over the full extent of the government's visa schemes after ministers were forced to deny a third route was being opened. 

Patel told The Sun on Monday Patel said she was “investigating the legal options to create a humanitarian route” for refugees to come to the UK, which would be on top of two existing routes.

But asked if the government was considering a third route, similar to a scheme in place in the EU, Johnson avoided committing to Patel's suggestion. 

He also earlier dismissed the claims that only 50 visas had been approved, telling reporters that he was “not sure” that those claims “are right”, adding that the government was processing “thousands” of applications. 

"Clearly, this crisis is evolving the whole time and I've said before that the UK will be as generous as we possibly can be, and we intend to do that,” he said.

He added that Britain will have “a system that is very, very generous as the situation in Ukraine deteriorates”, but defended maintaining immigration controls on those fleeing the Russian invasion.

In her statement, Patel went on to dismiss earlier reports that there were no visa processing facilities in Calais, forcing many refugees from Ukraine to travel hundreds of miles to other centres in France.

Asked about sending additional support to those arriving at the Channel, Patel said: “We've already had people in Calais. 

“Let me again clarify, I've said this over the weekend, we have staff in Calais. We have support on the ground. 

"It is wrong to say that we are just turning people back. We are absolutely not. We are supporting those that have been coming to Calais"

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson had earlier suggested that there was not a visa centre in Calais, claiming that the government was “looking at the support we need to have on the ground in France”.

Patel made her comments while speaking at the second reading of the government’s Economic Crime Bill, which is being used to crack down on illicit Russian money in London.
One of its main provisions involves setting up a register of overseas entities in the UK and toughen up the regime surrounding unexplained wealth orders.

“[Russia’s] regime is underpinned by a mob of oligarchs and kleptocrats who have abused the financial system and the rule of law for too long,” she told the Commons.

“Putin’s cronies have hidden dirty money in the UK and across the West and we do not want it here. Expediting this legislation, which I know this whole House supports, will mean that we can crack down on the people who abuse the UK’s open society.”

She continued: “This will be about hurting Putin and his vicious regime, which has robbed the Russian people not only of their chance for democracy, peace and prosperity, but actually even their own wealth has been used and abused.”

Patel said the Bill will give the UK “greater power and more information to identify and investigate the illicit wealth of Russian criminals, their allies and their proxies”.

But the government has faced criticism over the speed at which the Bill will come into force

Jonathan Reynolds, shadow secretary of state for business, told PoliticsHome that the register of overseas entities needed to require people to register within 28 days, rather than the current proposed six months.

“We need action in days, not months, to tighten the net on Putin’s cronies and ensure sanctions can happen,” he said. 

“The fact we are rushing through an emergency bill when the Government have been sat on this legislation since 2018 is deeply regrettable and has left the UK unable to take the action the EU and US have done.”

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