Tory MP suggests that Ukrainians coming to UK should pick fruit

Ukraine war: More than half a million refugees have fled in just ...
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More than 368,000 people have fled Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion – and one Tory minister suggested refugees should apply to pick fruit in the UK.

In response to Labour shadow minister Luke Pollard, who said the government had a "moral obligation" to accept Ukrainians fleeing the crisis, Kevin Foster said they could use the "seasonal worker scheme."

His since-deleted tweet read: "Hi Luke, as you will be well aware, there are a number of routes not least our seasonal worker scheme you will recall from your Shadow DEFRA days, which Ukrainians can qualify for, alongside the family route for those with family here."

Pollard shut down his remarks by simply saying: "This is not it."

"If your hot take on the refugee crisis is to say that those fleeing war in Ukraine can pick fruit in February on farms in Britain I think you may need to think again," he said. "We need a proper safe route to sanctuary for people fleeing Ukraine. This is not it."

Inevitably, Foster's tone deaf comments provoked outrage across social media.

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"My God. People are fleeing war in Europe, the like we haven't seen in generations, in search of swift sanctuary," shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper. "Yet the immigration minister says the answer is they should put in an application to pick Britain's fruit & veg."

Nicola Sturgeon wrote: "I hope we get clarity asap @pritipatel that this is not @ukhomeoffice position.

"Migrant seasonal workers make a valued contribution to our economy - but this is not the route to the UK that we should expect those seeking refuge from war to rely on. #StandWithUkraine"

SNP minister Richard Lochhead called Foster "an utter embarrassment", while Scottish Refugee Council CEO Sabir Zazai added: "A pathetic response by Kevin, who I know from my days in Coventry. He was a councillor and I was an asylum seeker. I would expect him to at least understand and appreciate the horrors people are fleeing.

"People fleeing wars aren't on a jolly, Kevin!"

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock called on Foster to apologise during Home Office questions in the Commons. He criticised the Tory minister's tweet and compared it to "the modern-day equivalent of 'let them eat cake'".

"Thankfully the minister has deleted it, but will he now come to this dispatch box to unconditionally apologise for that tweet and will he also offer swift and well-managed, safe sanctuary to these victims of Putin's barbarity who require our support," Kinnock added.

However, Foster ignored his request and instead said Priti Patel would be announcing further moves for Ukrainian refugees.

To find out how you can help the people of Ukraine, click here.

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