Greenock Telegraph 11th March 2022

During my seven years as an MP, I have seen some of the most extraordinary political events play out. To be up close and personal to them has been a privilege and an education. On Tuesday, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, provided yet another historic moment when he addressed the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Through the services of a translator, we all listened to him talk of the onslaught his country is suffering at the hands of Russia. He detailed the deaths and the suffering but also the iron will of the people of Ukraine to overcome their oppressors. The UK government can help. The invasion of Ukraine is resulting in over a two million people fleeing their homeland to find a safe haven. The UK should be one of those havens but unforgivably the UK government is tying up the process with red tape and refusing entry to many. We have families in Inverclyde who are at their wits end, desperately seeking information about loved ones and seeking guidance that will bring them safely to the UK. We need clear instructions and the dedicated resources to facilitate them. Instead, we are getting public relations spin and the now accustomed self-righteous pious indignation from the Foreign Office and Home Office. It was disturbing to watch Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel dutifully nod in agreement with President Zelenskyy and rise to their feet to applaud him while they have delayed and obfuscated over the processes required to provide a safe passage for innocents. The time for action is now, they need to wave the visas and open the borders. I never thought I would witness European refugees taking flight from an invading force. But it’s happening and it’s only going to get worse. It is our humanitarian duty to welcome them, we can’t turn a blind eye and we must not turn them away.