Priti Patel – known for her hardline approach to immigration while in government – is among 70 MPs calling for the government to prevent Ukrainians becoming homeless in the UK a year on from Russia’s invasion.
Official data shows more than 4,000 Ukrainian households have asked English councils for support with homelessness since the war began on February 24 last year. But Patel’s name among the signatures on an open letter calling for the government to act has been branded a “sick joke” by campaigners at a refugee charity.
The former home secretary, now on the backbenches, played a role in creating the legal routes for Ukrainian refugees to flee to the UK but also attracted criticism for her attachment to the controversial policy to deport asylum seekers on a one-way ticket to Rwanda.
Robina Qureshi, chief executive of Positive Action in Housing, said: “It does look like a bit of a sick joke to see her name on the letter promoting housing for refugees when she was one of the architects of making lives very difficult for war refugees when she was the home secretary.
“I think it’s important also to point out that while the housing of Ukrainian refugees is important, it is equally as important as housing refugees who are not Ukrainian. From Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, many countries, not just Ukraine.
“Every time we mention Ukrainians and forget the war refugees that are labelled illegal by the Home Office and this country we are complicit in supporting the apartheid that exists when it comes to the treatment of refugees in this country, divided on the lines of colour.”