Michael Gove reveals 'Homes for Ukraine' sponsorship scheme
The Independent

Michael Gove threw a wobbly in the Commons about the UK's response to the Ukraine refugee crisis and everyone is saying the same thing in response.

The communities secretary repeatedly banged on the dispatch box yesterday as he told MPs that he has “had it up to here with people trying to suggest this country is not generous.”

He claimed that “all the stuff about hostile environments” was introduced by a Labour home secretary.

But it was actually his Conservative colleague and former PM Theresa May who introduced the “hostile environment” strategy when she was home secretary as part of her aim to “create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”.

Former Labour Immigration Minister Liam Byrne mentioned creating a "hostile environment" to make "Britain much less of an attractive place if you are going to come here and break the rules" in 2007, but May implemented it in 2012.

Gove’s tantrum was in response to comments from Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi who told the Commons that “as with previous refugee crisis, the government’s response to the Ukraine crisis has, quite frankly, been pathetic, revealing the true extent of the callousness within this government’s hostile environment policy.”

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The Slough MP added: “The only reason, by the way, that we are having such a statement, which in itself is wholly inadequate, is because the government has been dragged kicking and screaming by the opposition, the media and the good British people, who have said that this debacle simply doesn’t represent us.”

Gove hit back by saying: “It’s always the case that more needs to be done at every point when we are dealing with a humanitarian tragedy.”

He continued: “We all recognise that. But I would respectfully say to him two things: this country has taken in people from Syria, from Afghanistan, we are taking people from Ukraine. It is an uncapped scheme.”

As he started banging on the despatch box, the communities secretary went on: “We are going to disagree politically and all the rest of it, but I have just had it up to here with people trying to suggest that this country is not generous.

“All the stuff about hostile environments, the hostile environment was invented under a Labour home secretary. So can we just chuck it when it comes to the partisan nonsense and get on with delivering?”

People on social media were very quick to remind Gove that it wasn’t a Labour home secretary that introduced the “hostile environment” strategy - it was his own colleague.

Lawyer and filmmaker Peter Stefanovic created a video explaining the “hostile environment” policy, and shared it with the message: “THIS RELENTLESS LYING HAS GOT TO STOP.”

This isn’t the first time Gove has made a blunder while speaking on the Ukraine refugee crisis.

At the weekend, Gove mistakenly said 300,000 visas had been given to Ukrainian refugees, before admitting that only 3,000 have been issued. He added that “tens of thousands” more will be provided.

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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