MATT WESTERN MP COLUMN: UK’s action on war lags far behind that of our neighbours

The UK's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has been embarrassingThe UK's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has been embarrassing
The UK's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has been embarrassing
It’s simple. We must force Russia into honouring a humanitarian corridor in Ukraine to protect civilians and refugees, writes Matt Western.

We must urgently set up emergency visas and resettlement routes with the fewest barriers possible, and we must see further, harder sanctions on Putin and the Russian economy.

A humanitarian corridor would protect civilians and refugees as they evacuate war-torn Ukraine.

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But Russia so far has used mines, artillery and missiles to violate these in sadistic breaches of international law, tantamount to war crimes.

When it comes to resettlement, the UK has so far accepted about 300 refugees, but French officials in Calais are saying more than 300 people have been sent back by UK Border Force.

At the same time, our partners in the European Union have taken more than 200,000 refugees, including more than 50,000 in Germany.

The UK is one of the only European nations not offering visa-free entry for Ukrainian refugees.

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Contrary to claims the UK is generous in its support for refugees, the UK also took many fewer Syrian and Afghan refugees than major EU nations.

We have an abhorrent immigration system in this country designed to deter refugees and immigrants.

It is a disgrace. And the worst thing is refugees from other war-torn nations have suffered this same fate for years.

Meanwhile, the UK has announced only 270 sanctions against Russia since its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. This compares to 1,200 by the US, 900 by Canada, 800 by Switzerland and 760 by the EU.

We are embarrassingly behind.

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Could that be because of the millions of pounds the Conservative Party has received in Russian-linked donations since then? Remember, Boris Johnson’s government – including 14 ministers – has taken more than £2 million in these donations since he was elected.

Elsewhere, I attended a hearing organised by the Boundary Commission of England and I have to say this: here we go again.

Another boundary review being promoted by another Conservative government with the sole purpose of gaining electoral advantage.

Five years ago, the review’s specifications culminated in a plan to split Warwick and Leamington, though it never materialised. I spoke against it.

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Warwick and Leamington constituency is already oversized, according to the Boundary Commission’s criteria, and it will become even larger and disproportionate if areas outlined for development continue to grow.

The commission’s proposals, to meet the Government criteria would mean part of the existing constituency would be lost while another, smaller area (to the north) is gained. Having got to know and having supported many residents in the Budbrooke ward, I would be disappointed to lose it.

Finally, the Government’s offensive against our universities and our young people continues.

The long-awaited Augur Review into reforming the higher education sector and how it is funded was bad news for everyone other than the very wealthy. It includes a new stealth tax for graduates starting out on their working lives which will hit those on the lowest incomes hardest.

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The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates low-to-middle income earners will now repay £28,000 more of their student loan, up from the original £19,000, because of the changes.

It has slammed the door on opportunity for thousands of young people as it seeks to phase out certain degrees and disincentivise people from pursuing higher education.