Politics

Dominic Raab did three terrible interviews about the UK's response to Ukrainian refugees

Putin could resort to ‘more barbaric tactics’ in Ukraine, Dominic Raab warns
Independent

You would have thought the Tories might have learnt a thing or two about allowing Dominic Raab to do the media rounds after the time he spoke about the sea being closed as an excuse for failing to act when the Taliban took Afghanistan.

You would be forgiven for thinking the deputy PM might have been placed on the subs benches after he claimed certain Partygate images could not depict parties as attendees were wearing suits.

And you might have thought he wouldn't be the first choice to toddle off to the media after he got confused about the number of people in the UK with the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

You would be wrong, though.

Today the government thought the best person they could get to talk about the UK's response to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country in the wake of Putin's invasion was Raab and boy did he make a mess of it.

First, he came to blows with Sky's Mark Austin Mark Austin who asked "why are we not doing more?" and compared the UK's response to refugees that of the EU.

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For context, home secretary Priti Patel has announced changes to waive visas for Ukrainians with immediate family members in the UK to enter the country subject to security checks but has ruled out an open door policy and has been criticised for not going further.

37 Tory MPs including Jeremy Hunt have called on the government to follow the EU's lead which is to temporarily allow entry to all people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine without applications for asylum.

"In relation to the Europeans, of course, they're closer to Ukraine," Raab said - suggesting he has brushed up on his geography skills in the last few years since he failed to understand the Dover-Calais crossing.

He then suggested Ukrainians who leave will want to be "as close to their home country as possible in order to be able to come back at some point in the future".

He made the same point on BBC Breakfast to Dan Walker who also asked why the UK could not do the same as the EU.

And on Good Morning Britain, he got into a tiff with Adil Ray who told him "you don't know the detail" about the UK's scheme and who counts as "immediate family".

"You're doing the usual thing which we always get on GMB which is not allowing me to answer the question," Raab snapped.

"We get the usual thing from you when you don't answer the question the first time round," Ray replied.

Today Boris Johnson signalled further changes to the system, saying on a visit to Poland:

"We are extending the family scheme so that very considerable numbers would be eligible... You could be talking about a couple of hundred thousand, maybe more," he said.

"Additionally, we are going to have a humanitarian scheme and then a scheme by which UK companies and citizens can sponsor individual Ukrainians to come to the UK."

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told the BBC : "At the moment, what the Home Office is doing is trying to just tweak the existing system.

"They're trying to carry on with a version of business as usual, with a version of asking people to apply for traditional work visas or traditional visitor visas or traditional family visas that are still narrowly drawn.

"And the normal system just doesn't work when you are facing war in Europe.”

The Independent last week launched its Refugees Welcome campaign, calling on the government to set up a resettlement scheme to grant sanctuary in the UK to Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.

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