Open door for Ukraine refugees could lead to ‘devastating’ terror attack on UK, Tory minister claims

Suella Braverman says checks needed as it will be hard to deport Ukrainians once they are in Britain

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 18 March 2022 12:26 GMT
<p>Suella Braverman, the attorney general</p>

Suella Braverman, the attorney general

Dropping security checks on Ukrainian refugees could lead to a "devastating" terror attack on British soil, a cabinet minister has claimed.

Conservative Suella Braverman on Thursday defended the government's policy of making those fleeing the Russian invasion deal with Home Office bureaucracy.

Britain stands isolated in Europe in not giving free entry to Ukrainians fleeing the invasion – an approach which has been accused of lacking humanity by other governments.

Speaking on the BBC's Question Time programme on Friday night attorney general Ms Braverman said mirroring the EU's approach and dropping controls was against security advice.

"God forbid we drop the checks because there's political pressure and because ambitious MPs are making political footballs out of this issue – and someone gets through illegally, and then they carry out an attack on British soil, something which is devastating," Ms Braverman said.

"Everybody here would be rightly outraged that we dropped checks and we allowed someone to slip through the net.

"I'm not willing to take that chance on British people's security. It's right that we have checks is right that we offer a warm welcome to refugees, but we need to do it right."

She added that it was "really important" to carry out checks before Ukrainians arrived in the UK because "if they don't pass the standard, it's very hard to remove people".

The British government has launched two schemes to help Ukrainians come to the UK: one for those with existing family here, and other for named individuals who can find sponsors in Britain.

It also says it has streamlined the application process to allow more people to apply online, and to collect biometric data from some people once they have arrived in the UK.

Around three million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, but as of 15 March just 5,500 visas have been issued by British authorities.

In contrast, EU countries are allowing Ukrainians entry without a visa for up to three years. Poland, which borders Ukraine, has taken 1.1 million people, and the UK's neighbour Ireland is already hosting nearly 7,000.

Labour says the government has not gone far enough in making life easier for Ukraine refugees. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said last week that applications were still requiring up to 50 pages of forms and documentation, and that there were "long caseworker delays in the Home Office system".

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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