Boris Johnson urged to sack Priti Patel for ‘utterly shameful’ handling of refugee crisis

Home secretary has show ‘incompetence, indifference and sheer inhumanity’, says Lib Dem leader

Michael Gove says he is considering personally taking in Ukrainian refugees

Boris Johnson has been urged to sack home secretary Priti Patel over her department’s handling of the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said Ms Patel’s response to the “humanitarian catastrophe” had been “utterly shameful”.

In a speech at the party’s spring conference on Sunday, the Lib Dem leader said: “She has answered desperation with delays; crisis with confusion; pain with paperwork.”

Sir Ed alleged that Ms Patel has shown “incompetence, indifference and sheer inhumanity”, which “does not befit our United Kingdom, with its proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need”.

He added: “It couldn’t be clearer that Priti Patel is not up to the job. The buck stops with the prime minister. So Boris Johnson must sack her now.”

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has announced details of a new sponsorship scheme to help people fleeing the Russian invasion, allowing Britons to offer homes to Ukrainian refugees and receive a “thank you” payment of £350 per month.

Mr Gove said “tens of thousands” of refugees are potentially set to benefit from the new route, with the first expected to come the UK “in a week’s time”.

The government has been criticised over the speed and scale of its efforts to bring people fleeing the war to the UK, with access previously limited to those with family members settled in this country.

Labour also cautioned that “too many questions remain unanswered” about the new scheme – accusing the government of being “far too slow, far too mean” in its approach to refugees.

Scottish first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Sunday that Scotland “stands ready” to take 3,000 Ukrainian refugees immediately.

Ms Sturgeon also said she was worried the UK sponsorship scheme will be “slow and cumbersome”, lack proper support and safeguarding, and may not be sustainable for the length of time that people may need to stay in the UK.

Earlier this week, Conservative MPs joined the opposition in launching a furious attack on the Home Office’s “snail’s pace” response to the crisis.

Davey told the Lib Dem conference that “people across the UK have said loud and clear: we want to welcome them, with open arms”, adding: “The British people want to offer them a home – but Priti Patel has slammed the door in their face.”

Mr Gove said on Sunday that “more than 3,000 visas” have now been issued, up from the 1,305 figure given by Home Office minister Baroness Williams on Friday.

Ms Patel and the Home Office have been approached for comment.

In a previous statement, the government said: “We are standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians, which is why we’ve made it easier for those with valid Ukrainian passports to come here. This is alongside changes to visas to ensure Ukrainians in the UK can stay here.”

Meanwhile, Irish prime minister Micheal Martin said his country’s humanitarian response trumps security checks on arriving Ukrainians. “Our primary impulse is to assist those fleeing war,” he told the BBC.

He said Ireland has so far accepted 5,500 people fleeing the Russian invasion, a response to what he termed “the worst displacement of people since World War Two”.

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