Nicola Sturgeon has called for clarity on support people fleeing the war in Ukraine after a UK Government Minister appeared to suggest they could come to Britian to pick fruit and vegetables.  

The First Minister said that asking refugees to be migrant seasonal workers is “not the route” people seeking refuge should rely on.  

Ms Sturgeon spoke out after Conservative MP Kevin Foster, responding to Labour MP Luke Pollard, wrote that there are a 'number of routes' for refugees from the war.  

In a now-deleted tweet, Mr Foster said, an immigration minister under Priti Patel, tweeted on Saturday evening: "Hi Luke, as you are well aware there are a number of routes, not least our seasonal work scheme you will recall from your shadow DEFRA days, which Ukrainians can qualify for, alongside the family route for those with relatives here.” 


Nicola Sturgeon

Responding, Ms Sturgeon said last night: “I hope we get clarity asap [Priti Patel] that this is not [Home Office] position.  

“Migrant seasonal workers make a valued contribution to our economy - but this is not the route to the UK that we should expect those seeking refuge from war to rely on.” 

Earlier, the First Minister had said the UK needed to do “much better” on the subject of refugees, in response to a tweet claiming Ukrainians were being turned back from the UK in France if they did not have a visa.  

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She said: “We can do much better than this. Please lift visa requirements immediately [Home Office] so that we can reunite families and offer refuge to as many Ukrainians as possible. [The Scottish Government] stands ready to help and play our full part in resettlement effort.”  

The row has rumbled on this morning, with Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford saying the UK will need to “go beyond” its current visa arrangements for those fleeing conflict in Ukraine. 

Mr Drakeford seemingly criticised the Home Office over its announcement earlier this week that Ukrainians in the UK will be able to extend or switch their visas. 

Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast: “There’s a slightly grudging spirit in the Home Office’s announcement, on simply talking about ‘concessions’ being made to people who are already here. 

“As the position clarifies, we will need to go beyond that. 

“It isn’t just the actions themselves, it’s the spirit in which they’re made that will be important to establish our reputation as a country which – in the face of these enormously disturbing events – is prepared to play our part in responding to those people who are at the very sharpest end of it all.” 


Refugees flee Ukraine

Mr Drakeford said Wales aims to be a “nation of sanctuary”. 

“We’ve tried to live that out in relation to Syrian refugees and refugees from Afghanistan,” he said via video from Carmarthen. 

“And we will want to play our part again as the picture unfolds and as we work with other governments across the United Kingdom. 

“In practical terms it means doing everything we can to provide those practical things: accommodation, education (and) healthcare to people who come to resettle and remake their lives in Wales. 

“But it’s more than just services, it’s about an attitude of mind… and that sense of reaching out and welcoming people whose needs are so enormous.” 

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It came after a furious war of words erupted between the Government and Labour over Britain’s treatment of people fleeing Ukraine. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK is “of course” going to take refugees and pledged to help people “fleeing in fear of their lives”. 

His comments come after Labour said the Government’s refusal to relax visa restrictions for those seeking sanctuary in the UK is “immoral” at a time when the country is under fire. 

Responding to the row over Mr Foster’s tweets, A UK Government spokesman told The Mirror the priority was supporting British nationals and their dependents who are resident in Ukraine who wanted to get out. 

"We are working around the clock to process visa applications and are processing many applications in a matter of hours," the spokesman said.