Former refugees minister Lord Harrington calls for a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes

23 February 2024, 17:44 | Updated: 23 February 2024, 17:46

Lord Harrington said there should be a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes.
Lord Harrington said there should be a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

The former refugees minister has called for a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes as it approaches two years since Russia invaded Ukraine.

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Speaking to LBC’s Tom Swarbrick, Lord Harrington has said the “reasonable thing to do” would be for Parliament to introduce an annual cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK accepts.

He said: “I think it’s a very reasonable thing to do, I think government should do it, I think that’s what a government is employed for to do and I think that’s up to each government to make a policy on it just like they would for anything else.”

On February 24, it will have been two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, meaning some of the first visas issued to Ukrainians seeking asylum in the UK will expire next year.

The government announced on Sunday that it would be extending the Ukrainian visa scheme by 18 months.

However, it confirmed on Monday the length of the visas will be halved in time and that the Ukraine family scheme was being closed.

More than 200,000 Ukrainians and family members have come to the UK since Russia’s invasion in 2022.

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It will have been two years since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
It will have been two years since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Picture: Alamy

The first round of visas issued to those who arrived in the UK are due to expire in March 2025.

The visa extension means that those who were issued them earliest will now be able to stay in the UK until at least September 2026.

Lord Harrington said that limitations to the length of the Ukrainian schemes were driven by Ukraine, amid a fear of a “brain drain” on the country.

He said: "The Ukrainian government themselves were not keen on us expanding the scheme beyond three years because their fear - and you really have to understand these people are very smart people -I think the Ukrainian government felt we couldn't easily make this indefinite because it would be our country that got the benefit and not theirs.”

Announcing the visa extension on Sunday, migration minister Tom Pursglove said the UK will “continue to provide a safe haven for those fleeing the conflict”.

While the government added that the extension was reflective of its “strong belief that Ukraine will be safe again”.

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