PMQs: Yorkshire former Cabinet Minister calls on Government to take 'more humane' approach to refugees

A Yorkshire former Cabinet Minister has called on the Government to take a “more humane” approach to Ukrainian refugees.

Julian Smith urged Boris Johnson to “reset” the policy amid genuine concern from the public about the “tone of our response”.

There has been outcry from both sides of the Commons in recent days on refugees, with Conservative and Labour figures telling the Government that more needs to be done and quickly to help those fleeing find sanctuary.

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Around 2 million people are now thought to have left following the invasion.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament

The MP for Skipton and Ripon said during Prime Minister’s Questions: “I commend the Prime Minister’s response to this Ukrainian crisis, but I think people across the country are genuinely concerned on our response on refugees, on the bureaucracy, on the tone of our response.

“He has shown with vaccines that Government change really comes from the very top.

"Please, can I urge him to look again on resetting our policy and taking control of a more humane approach to those women and men fleeing from Ukraine?”

Responding, Mr Johnson said: “We have done more than any other to resettle vulnerable people since 2015.

“I think there is a huge opportunity now for us to do even more, that’s why my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, will be setting out a route by which the British people, not just the family reunion route which can run into the hundreds of thousands, but also a route by which everybody in this country can offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine.”

During the session, Mr Johnson also promised that routes “by which the whole country can offer a welcome to people from Ukraine” will be set out in the next few days and that he expects the numbers of those arriving to rise “very sharply”.

He told colleagues in the Commons: “I think everybody sympathises with the plight of refugees and this Government wants to do everything we can to welcome them, and that is indeed what we are doing and the numbers are almost 1,000 as I speak to him today, and they will rise very sharply.

“They are uncapped. We expect those numbers to rise in the region of the hundreds of thousands.”

Earlier today, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acknowledged that there are “lessons to be learned” about their approach.

“President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government have told me that they do not want people to move far away, if at all possible, from the country, because they want people to be able to come back,” he told Sky News.

“We are really leaning into this, at the same time respecting Ukraine’s wishes, the government’s wishes, not to pull people a long way away from Ukraine.”