Article by The Rt Hon. Alec Shelbrooke MP (Wednesday 9th March 2022).
I know residents across Elmet & Rothwell are concerned about the plight of the Ukrainian people and the security of Europe. I'm grateful to the many constituents who have written to me with their concerns, which I hope you feel I reflected in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday 8th March).
The UK’s militarily aid to Ukraine has been second to none. The Ministry of Defence reacted swiftly late last year with both lethal and non-lethal aid via Operation Orbital: training over 22,000 Ukrainian soldiers; delivering over 2,000 anti-armour missiles; and providing further defensive military support in recent weeks.
On sanctions, the UK has worked with partners across Europe to impose strict and coordinated sanctions on those complicit in Putin’s tyrannical regime. We’ve frozen more bank assets than any other country: £258 billion to the EU’s £33 billion. And the new Economic Crime Bill, rushed through the House yesterday, will make it easier to introduce further sanctions.
Last week, Conservative MPs in the one nation caucus urged the prime minister to make a fair offer to those fleeing Ukraine and I’m proud of the support given as a result. Boris Johnson has led the world’s humanitarian response, committing £400 million in support, and on Monday creating the International Ukraine Support Group, along with Canada and the Netherlands, to coordinate global efforts and provide long-term humanitarian, economic and military support.
The UK proudly stands as the largest bilateral humanitarian donor to Ukraine.
Yet, despite these rapid measures, I’ve been angered by the reticence of the Home Office. It’s simply not good enough to have emerging plans for refugees. They need to put plans into action now. They need to get a grip on the ground – and in Whitehall – and speed up the processing of visa applications. I understand the need for security checks, but we need officials surged into Calais so checks can be completed as quickly as possible because demand is surely going to increase over coming weeks as citizens leave neighbouring states of Poland, Moldova and Romania – their first safe stop – and continue their journey to loved ones in the UK.