I was privileged to meet with Valentyna and her ten-year-old daughter over the weekend. They are refugees who have successfully negotiated the complexities of Britain’s sponsorship scheme for those fleeing atrocities in Ukraine.
They’re wonderful people, as are the Birmingham couple who have given them a home, but why have so few arrived and why is the system so complicated?
Refugees and immigrants aren’t the same. Refugees need a safe place because they are fleeing war, brutal regimes or violence because of their politics, religion or sexual beliefs, among many other things. Immigrants tend to move for economic reasons and other social and family considerations.
Our current Education Secretary was an Iraqi refugee who arrived here unable to speak English. He is a great example of what can be achieved with the right support, as are other members of the government whose parents were immigrants.
Our Prime Minister is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the full name reflecting his French, German and Turkish ancestors. It takes all kinds and with DNA testing, we increasingly find just what a diverse bunch we are.
Nonetheless, it’s strange that the big story of the holy weekend should be the Home Secretary’s Rwanda plan which involves rounding up asylum seekers and transporting them 4,000 miles. It will cost so much that her top civil servants couldn’t justify it on ‘value for money’ grounds and she’s had to personally approve it.
I’d love to be able to work with her to tackle people smugglers who exploit desperate folk and put them to sea in unsafe dinghies but I doubt she’s really serious. This plan’s about headlines ahead of council elections, to distract from questions about the PM breaking his own laws.
People arriving in this country can go on to great things and there’s also a need to sort the genuine from the fraudulent but as we think about the people of Ukraine and their suffering, perhaps those in government need to adopt a more honest and generous ap