Category: Europe

Government opens new scheme to welcome Ukrainian refugees to the UK

From today, residents around the country can register to offer a room or home to refugees from Putin’s war in Ukraine. Residents (sponsors) will have to sign up for six months and  will receive a standard payment of £350 a month for each household taking in refugees. Local councils will receive £10,000 for each refugee that comes to their area along with additional payments to support school-age children. You can register your interest at homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk from today. You might want to wait until the load on the website has reduced. Online application forms are expected to be available from Friday. Organisations can also express an interest at the same web address. The difficulty many people will face with this scheme is that sponsors will need to identify refugees they can sponsor to come to the UK. Many people wanting to offer accommodation will not know any Ukrainians. We can expect existing and new social media, charity and volunteer networks to step up in the next few days to match refugees with sponsors. Initially, the government will prioritise refugees with connections in the UK.

I don’t love bureaucracy. I am not a fan of the EU. I am a diehard localist. But I am also a realist. The big world out there is changing fast. We are either part of that big world or we step back. That is the decision we will make on 23 June. It is likely to be the biggest decision that will happen in our lifetimes. I am 61 years of age. I remember the Cold War. I remember from the real fear that ordinary people in ordinary homes felt day on day as the radio and black and white television scared them out of their wits. That fear was very real in a nation still recovering from the Second World War. I heard then from my elders and have since read in books that the level of fear was much the same in the late 1930s. At that time, it was not a question of whether war in Europe would happen but when it would happen. We are still frightened.

Ouch! The Lib Dems lost a lot of local council seats last Thursday. And last night we lost our West Midlands Euro MP Phil Bennion, who gained just 44% of the vote he won in 2009. I’m sorry to see Phil go, he has worked hard for his patch including for us here in Shropshire. The Lib Dems were all but wiped in the European elections. Our vote share halved to a miserable 6.9% and we came fifth behind the Greens. There was no local election in Shropshire and most of the wards elected last Thursday were in urban areas. So this result tells us much more about how the major towns and cities vote and less about deeply rural areas like Ludlow. The Lib Dems are past masters at localism. Many of us are elected because of our local stance and because we work hard for the community. But we are never able to completely decouple local elections from national trends. Many hard working councillors were ejected on Thursday, unable to stem the national trend: 307 Lib Dem councillors lost their seats, leaving us with just 427. Lib Dem networks are buzzing with talk of an attempt to remove…

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