Michael Gove called out for completely inaccurate Ukrainian visa claim

Michael Gove mistakenly says 300,000 visas given to Ukrainians
Sky News

Michael Gove has mistakenly overestimated the UK government's generosity after claiming 300,000 visas had been issued to Ukrainian refugees - when in reality it's a few zeros less at 3,000.

Appearing on Sophie Ridge on Sunday, the levelling up minister made the blunder when discussing how many visas had been given to Ukrainians fleeing their homes amid the Russian invasion.

"Yes, we’ve had more than 300,000 visas that have been issued," he said.

“And of course, it’s important to recognise that from Tuesday – I’m talking about the families – from Tuesday, it will be the case that the majority of people will no longer need to apply for visas at these application centres, we’ll accept Ukrainian passports, people will be able to come into this country.

“And as well as the number of people who are coming in through the family scheme, which has rapidly expanded, as you mentioned right at the beginning of the programme, there’s a new Homes For Ukrainians scheme, which also has no cap to the number of people who can come here.”

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Picking up on the large figure, Ridge challenged Gove and asked: “So just to clarify, 300,000 visas, that’s up from 1,305 on Thursday, is that correct?”

Gove then corrected himself and replied: “3,000, more than 3,000 visas, my apologies.”

The presenter continued: “More than 3,000, right. I was going to say, that’s a very fast escalation otherwise.”

“Yes,” he confirmed before taking a nervous sip of his water.

Viewers also picked up on the gaffe and quickly shared their reactions on Twitter about the mistakenly inflated figure.

While others also questioned if Gove would receive similar flak as Labour former shadow home secretary Dianne Abbott did when she had a similar numbers blunder on the topic of police funding during an LBC interview back in 2017.

In the same interview, Gove spoke about how charities and social media can help in the process, by connecting refugees with families and community groups to help them fill out the paperwork.

“The alternative to that would be the government attempting to match people in Ukraine to individuals here – that could be quite a slow, bureaucratic process," he explained.

"We know charities, and we are working with them, who are working to identify people on the ground, and helping to identify people here to create the matching process.”

Gove also said he himself was "seeking to see what I can do” to help Ukrainian refugees when Ridge asked him if he would participate in the scheme by offering a room to a Ukrainian refugee.

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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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