Sir Keir says he can't offer his home to a Ukrainian refugee for 'practical reasons'

28 March 2022, 09:37 | Updated: 28 March 2022, 10:03

Sir Keir Starmer challenged by Nick Ferrari over whether he will take in a Ukrainian refugee?'

By Sophie Barnett

Sir Keir Starmer has told LBC that "practical issues" would make it "difficult" for him to house a Ukrainian refugee, but hailed the generosity of the British people.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Labour leader said "we'd all like to play our part" but admitted there are "practical issues" which will prevent him from being able to welcome a Ukrainian refugee into his home.

He told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast during Call Keir he "salutes" the generosity of the thousands of people who have signed up to help.

"I have been incredibly struck by the generosity of the British public in terms of the thousands upon thousands of people that are going to take, or have offered to take in a refugee," he said.

"Look, we'd like to play our part. There are practical issues in relation to being leader of the opposition, but I do salute that generosity."

Read more: Minister 'glad' Ukrainian refugee website crashed after over 88,000 Brits sign up

Sir Keir Starmer calls for windfall tax on energy companies

Nick asked the Labour leader: "You don't think you'll be able to because of security reasons?"

"I think it may be difficult but equally we want to play our part," Sir Keir replied.

"Our children are quite young but very struck by all of this. We talk about it in our family quite a lot."

He went on to say he is worried that the scheme hasn't been thought through by the Government, recalling the time he visited some Afghan families who arrived in the UK last summer.

He said they were "incredibly traumatised" and all were worried about relatives stuck in Afghanistan.

David Cameron says he'd put trust in Richard Harrington to help refugees

This will be the same with those fleeing the war zone in Ukraine, Sir Keir said.

"There's a huge amount of support that needs to go in."

The Government's Home For Ukraine scheme went live two weeks ago, with thousands of Brits heading to the website on its launch day causing the site to crash.

A spokesman said the site "temporarily stalled" after it went live due to the "enormous generosity of the British public" in offering to take in those fleeing the conflict with Russia.

Over 100,000 people have registered their interest in the scheme, which will take in "unlimited numbers" of people fleeing the war-torn country of Ukraine.

The Government will pay £350 a month to those who offer to take in fleeing Ukrainians for a minimum of six months.

Refugees Minister says Brits have reacted in an overwhelming way

The refugees will have full and unrestricted access to benefits, health care, employment and other support.

Previously only Ukrainians with family members already living in the UK could obtain a visa but the new scheme allows UK residents to sponsor refugees without families ties.

People who want to offer a rent-free space in their home or a separate residence, for at least six months, can register their interest online.

The newly-appointed Refugees Minister Lord Richard Harrington previously told LBC the government's visa process for Ukrainians fleeing the warzone is "far too complicated" and "unacceptable" as he pledged to make the process simpler.

Lord Harrington pledged to ensure Ukrainian's won't have to wait outside visa centres in "unacceptable queues" as LBC uncovered on the Polish border.

He said the government is increasing the number of its staff in visa centres to help process those who have fled the country without their passport.

"We can then deal with them individually and they will not have to wait in anything like they have had to do," he explained.