advertisement

Image caption, Charities have urged the UK to welcome thousands of refugees, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine

A row has broken out over a Conservative MP’s suggestion that Ukrainian refugees should apply for work visas to get into the UK.

Torbay MP and Home Office minister Kevin Foster tweeted there were a “number of routes” for refugees “not least our seasonal worker scheme”.

advertisement

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted her astonishment at the since-deleted comments.

Mr Foster later tweeted that working was “just one of several routes”.

Yesterday I pressed Ministers on opening safe routes to sanctuary in Britain for those fleeing war in Ukraine. The Immigration Minister replied suggesting visas to pick fruit on British farms. I like Kevin but this was painfully unaware and unkind. We need safe routes open now pic.twitter.com/p0SEm7IECM

— Luke Pollard MP (@LukePollard) February 27, 2022

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Charities have urged the UK to welcome thousands of Ukrainian refugees, following the invasion of their country by Russian forces.

Mr Foster, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for immigration, posted his comments in response to Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Labour MP and shadow armed forces minister Luke Pollard on Twitter.

Mr Pollard had raised concerns about UK visa restrictions on refugees from Ukraine and said he was “looking for a route for people fleeing Ukraine who might not have a family link in the UK”.

He said: “We have a moral obligation to help them. Will you now change policy to do exactly that?”

Image source, UK Parliament

Image caption, Kevin Foster has declined to comment further on his tweet

Mr Foster replied in the now-deleted post: “As you will be well aware there are a number of routes, not least our seasonal worker scheme you will recall from your Shadow Defra days, which Ukrainians can qualify for, alongside the family route for those with relatives here.”

Mr Foster later added: “Hi Luke. It’s just one of several routes and we will do more as the PM has made clear.”

Mr Pollard responded that the initial tweet was “painfully unaware and unkind” and added: “We need safe routes now.”

My God. People are fleeing war in Europe, the like we havent seen in generations, in search of swift sanctuary.

Yet the immigration minister says the answer is they should put in an application to pick Britains fruit & veg. https://t.co/bQcLOZzSoS

— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) February 26, 2022

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted in response to Mr Foster’s initial comment: “My God. People are fleeing war in Europe, the like we haven’t seen in generations, in search of swift sanctuary.

“Yet the immigration minister says the answer is they should put in an application to pick Britain’s fruit & veg.”

The Home Office has been asked to comment.

Mr Foster declined to comment further.

Follow BBC News South West on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Send your story ideas to [email protected]