Good morning. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, was batting for the government on TV and radio this morning and he had the awkward job of tidying up policy difficulties left by his colleagues over the weekend.
First, UK immigration policy for Ukrainians fleeing the war and seeking refuge in this country. Downing Street announced a new approach last night, but when the Home Office published the small print a bit later, it turned out to be very minimal. Labour called the announcement “shameful”. This morning Wallace implied that this was just a first step, and that more would be done. He told Sky News:
The first step is to make sure that Ukrainians who have family here – either settled or dual nationals – that they can come and join them.
But the second step we will look at [is] about what we do with the refugee flows across the board.
In the light of the reaction to last night’s announcement, and developments in the EU, the government may well end up doing more. But that is not what the Home Office was telling journalists to expect last night.
Second, government policy on Britons wanting to travel to Ukraine to join the fight against the Russians. Yesterday Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, was criticised for saying she would support people wanting to do this. This morning Wallace did not exactly disown her, but he claimed that she was not advising people without military training to volunteer (Truss did not make that distinction in her interviews) and he said her main point was that the war was a “just cause”. He also said there were better ways to help Ukraine. He said:
If you’re keen to help and you’re a United Kingdom citizen, come and join our armed forces …
What I would say is unless you are properly trained, unless you are a, you know, experienced member of [the] armed forces, I think there are better ways for you to contribute to the security of Ukraine.
I will post more from Wallace’s interviews shortly.
Mostly today I will be focusing on UK reaction to the war in Ukraine, but I will also be covering some non-Ukraine politics too. Here is the agenda for the day.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
2.30pm: Priti Patel, the home secretary, takes questions in the Commons.
After 3.30pm: MPs debate the Lords amendments to the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill.
4pm: Neil O’Brien, the levelling up minister, and Andy Haldane, the former Bank of England economist who is head of the levelling up taskforce, give evidence to the Commons levelling up committee about the levelling up white paper.
For full coverage of the war in Ukraine, and a global perspective, do read our separate live blog. It’s here.
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