A Ukrainian road sign with bullet holes

Photography by President of Ukraine (Public Domain)

Boris Johnson’s approach to the Ukraine war has been somewhat lackluster. Oh sure, he’s told everyone his sanctions are world beating. But then again, he said that about Test & Trace. He also said it about his trade deals. He’s probably said it about other stuff as well, but frankly I can’t be bothered to look.

At this point, “world-beating” may as well be a synonym for “bloody awful”. If he told me that Apple Inc stock was world-beating today, I’d immediately short sell it. A Boris Johnson “world-beating” endorsement would be an almost certain sign that before the day was out, Apple would have gone under and Tim Apple (née Cook) would be pawning his jewellery to make ends meet.

With this new definition in mind, I can safely say that Boris Johnson’s support for Ukrainian refugees has been “world-beating”. And by that I mean it’s been f***ing abysmal.

What has actually happened?

Long story short – not a lot. And that’s the problem. 2 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the start of the war. Poland has taken in 1.2 million of these alone. Similarly impressive numbers have been seen across Western and Eastern Europe. Until you get to the UK, where our government has essentially abandoned Ukrainian refugees to their fate.

Our government has granted visas to just 300 people. Up to 600 refugees have been outright turned away for lack of paperwork and there is a backlog of c18,000 “being processed”. If the Home Office has anything to do with it, they’ll no doubt be rejected and fined for time wasting.

These numbers are, frankly, scandalous. But, as sure as night follows day, Boris Johnson has claimed that black is white. Apparently there are two routes for Ukrainians seeking to enter the UK:

  • An “uncapped” family reunion route
  • A humanitarian route where “people can sponsor refugees”

According to Boris Johnson, this package offers a “very generous” scheme that is “uncapped”. Apparently this means that “hundreds of thousands” could potentially find refuge. I suppose in some way this is true, in the same way that my bank balance is potentially uncapped and could potentially have hundreds of thousands. Except it doesn’t, and the bureaucratic nightmare that is post Brexit Britain is an out and out barrier. If it has taken nearly 10 days to process 300 Visas, it would take 82 years to process 300,000.

Misha put a face to the thousands of abandoned Ukrainian refugees

Earlier today the BBC reported about Misha, a British citizen of Ukrainian decent who travelled to Ukraine to rescue his family. Despite government assurances of an uncapped family reunion offer, Misha’s family was turned away at Calais “for not having the correct papers”. Misha and his family are still in Calais. You can read about his heart wrenching story here.

When I started writing this list, I thought it was quite an amusing way to shine a light on Boris Johnson’s repeated failings. Sadly, stories like this bring home the real cost of having a venal, dishonest clown in charge.

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