The job would still require Ukrainian refugees to undergo biometric and security checks before being granted emergency visas to come to Britain, a senior shadow cabinet official said.
Speaking on Thursday morning, Ed Miliband told the government his party would issue “emergency protection visas” to people fleeing the Russian invasion.
He criticized the government’s approach, which he said was not generous enough and was sending too many people away.
But the shadow energy secretary said Labor would not follow the 27 EU member states and drop visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees.
Asked about the difference between Labor’s proposed emergency protection visas and an EU-style scrapping of visa requirements, Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“You still have biometric and security checks on people based on this emergency protection visa.”
The party says the visa would be simpler and faster than the existing process, which has seen Ukrainians stuck in Calais or queuing in freezing temperatures at application centres. Mr Miliband was told the checks would slow down the process and it could take weeks to process even the 22,000 existing applications.
He replied: “It won’t take weeks and if the government really pulls out all the stops we could lift the normal visa requirements other than biometrics and security checks and then people could come here.
“We have looked at this in detail, it can absolutely be done, but the government needs to move on and pull itself together.”
Asked who had told Labor it could be done quickly, Mr Miliband said the party had “examined this in detail” and spoken to “various experts”.
“What we said was that we should have an emergency visa, a 12-month emergency visa for people so they can come in and we can take our fair share of refugees. is a visa system, and checks can be done very quickly,” he said.
“Frankly, what we’re seeing – and it’s a feeling from all sides of the House of Commons about this – is the feeling that there just isn’t a proper system in place.
“And people being turned away, terrible stories of what people are facing, the government has to get its act together. It has to get the humanitarian aid to the people that I think the country really wants to see.”
Britain has stood out among European countries for not offering an open-door policy for Ukrainian refugees – the government facing international criticism.
Earlier this week, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote a scathing letter to his British counterpart Priti Patel, accusing the UK of a “lack of humanity” for not opening its doors,
Under current rules, the government has simply relaxed existing visa requirements slightly for people with family or sponsors. He promised to open new safe routes, but gave no details yet.
The latest official statistics suggest 300 Ukrainians have been granted visas to come to Britain – dwarfed by the two million who have actually fled the country.
Poland is hosting 1.2 million people and Britain’s neighboring Ireland has taken in 2,000 people so far, with its government saying it plans to take in between 80,000 and 100,000 people in total.
The European Union has activated a special law that will allow all people fleeing the conflict to access housing and other public services for an initial period of three years. According to the rule, people will not be asked to apply for asylum or visas.
The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we launched our first campaign to welcome refugees during the war in Syria in 2015. Today, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition to Following the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, we are asking the government to go further and faster to ensure the delivery of aid. To learn more about our Welcome to Refugees campaign, Click here. To sign the petition Click here. If you would like to donate, please Click here for our GoFundMe page.