050 | Colin Yeo | The UK's very low bar on Ukrainian refugees

"It's not that the UK has done absolutely nothing. It's just _almost_ absolutely nothing."

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

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An emergency podcast with immigration lawyer and founder of freemovement.org Colin Yeo on the British government's bare minimum help to Ukrainian refugees, the gap between pronouncements and practice, and how Europe's own programme is putting Britain to shame.
- the Nationality and Borders bill under scrutiny,
- non-white refugees discriminated at the border,
- lessons from last summer's Afghanistan promises, and
- can we trust the EU long-term on this?

Show notes

[00:00:10] Intro
[00:00:42] "Half a million people have fled"
[00:03:10] "The UK has done almost nothing"
[00:11:01] "The government's been very consistent in being anti-refugee"
[00:12:59] "The asylum system is in a really sorry state"
[00:15:08] The Nationality and Borders bill
[00:18:21] Europe's response is a sharp contrast
[00:20:52] International students and other non-white refugees stopped at borders
[00:24:53] How you can help
[00:26:47] Outro

Colin Yeo is an immigration lawyer, the founder of freemovement.org and author of Welcome to Britain. Follow him on Twitter at @ColinYeo1.

Evacuees from Ukraine seeking free immigration advice or lawyers who want to help can find information and contacts at https://advice-ukraine.co.uk.


Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuses typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.

[00:00:00] Colin Yeo: In no way, shape or form, can it possibly really be said in real life that the UK is at the forefront of protecting Ukrainian refugees.

[00:00:10] Intro

[00:00:10] Isabelle Roughol: Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and this is Borderline.

[00:00:13] Today we have an unexpected and unplanned episode, and I'm very grateful for, uh, my guests to be coming on at such quite short notice. Uh, so we're welcoming back, uh, Colin Yeo immigration lawyer, and founder of free movement.org to talk about the refugee situation out of Ukraine and what the UK and EU have been doing to support people fleeing the conflict or not doing. Uh, so thank you. And hello.

[00:00:40] Colin Yeo: hello. and thanks very much for having me on.

[00:00:42] "Half a million people have fled"

[00:00:42] Isabelle Roughol: Um, very much appreciated. So I think we should start with quickly explaining the situation on the ground though neither you nor I are there. And so we're, uh, mainly, uh, parsing news reports here, but, but what do we know of, of who has left or maybe leaving, uh, Ukraine in a days and the weeks to come.

[00:01:01] Colin Yeo: And this is something I don't feel terribly well qualified to speak about yet. I say, when I'm not on the ground, I'm safe here in the UK. I'm just reading the news the same as everybody else. I mean, what, what we're being told is that already just a few days in half a million people have fled, I think we've probably all seen with some horror, the footage of, of women and children, especially leaving, men being kept back and told that they can't leave being conscripted to fight. Um, so there's clearly a, a sort of developing refugee situation, which is primarily affecting the countries immediately adjacent to Ukraine.

[00:01:37] Isabelle Roughol: And I guess it all depends on how long this lasts, right? Whether this is a few days and things kind of get quiet again, or, or if we're looking at weeks and months of fighting.

[00:01:48] Colin Yeo: Yes, which is always the case with, with refugees. Um, and you know, again, I'm not an expert on the ground and what's going on. I'm not an expert in, in, in warfare either. It's very difficult to imagine this being. Conflict with things as they stand. Um, obviously unexpected things I guess can happen, but, uh, at the moment it does look like it's likely to be a protracted situation.

[00:02:13] Although I think, um, perhaps unlike some refugee situations, I think everybody hopes. Ukrainians who want to return home. We'll be able to, at some point in the, in the medium term, it's not like some crises that we've had in the past, which have been, you know, there's a permanent regime in place, which is going to stay in place.

[00:02:31] And those who fled will never be able to go back. It's hopefully not going to be like that, but, but it's still very.

[00:02:38] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. Yeah. And as we're speaking, I was just seeing there's a convoy 40. As long of, of Russian military vehicles, um, kind of snaking its weight to two key. Um, so unfortunately I think we're, we, we might be seeing some, some very terrible images in the coming days, but let's speak to what you are an expert on, which is, uh, the, the UK, um, response when it comes to immigration law and, and taking in, um, people who, who might wish to find refuge here.

[00:03:10] "The UK has done almost nothing"

[00:03:10] Isabelle Roughol: So. What has been the UK response so far?

[00:03:14] Colin Yeo: Well, I think that's an easy one to answer and it won't take me long. The answer is that almost nothing. The UK has done almost nothing. And that has to be seen in context. So our Ukrainian. To come to the UK currently requires a visa, um, and that hasn't changed. Whereas a Ukrainian traveling into the EU, at least into the Shingon area, doesn't require a visa.

[00:03:38] So they're able to sort of apply for entry and just enter, um, at the. They, they can't do that. They've got to apply for what we call a visa or an entry clearance before traveling to the UK. And they have to do that because otherwise an airline or a coach company, or a fairy or whatever who carries them, we'll be fine.

[00:03:55] 2000 pounds per passenger. And it's this, um, it's this regime that academics call externalization where basically the borders aren't just on the territory of the country concerns. They're kind of try to export them to, to other countries, to stop people from reaching. Yeah, the territory of the United Kingdom or whatever other country.

[00:04:14] And the point of that is that once you actually reach the territory, once you're on UK soil, you can claim asylum. And so it's to stop people from claiming asylum. Once they, once they reached the UK.

[00:04:25] Isabelle Roughol: But we were hearing over the weekend from Boris Johnson, that the UK was quote way out in front in terms of helping Ukrainians. Um, was that just not true?

[00:04:36] Colin Yeo: Well, I have to be quite careful using my user words here because I don't want to say anything too, too difficult. It's. Quite frankly, it's delusional to think that the UK is way in front in, in protecting Ukrainian refugees. Um, I obviously Ukrainians are fleeing across the border in considerable numbers, into adjacent countries like Poland and Moldova.

[00:04:59] Um, those countries are at the front of protecting Ukrainian refugees. They've opened their borders. You've got private citizens. Yeah.

[00:05:08] going to the border to try and pick people up and ferry them offering shelter. You've got companies offering free transport to get them further into the interior. So as to prevent a crisis developing at the border, um, whereas the UK has, is carrying on requiring Ukrainians to apply for visas before they, they, they even sort of get on a plane or a coach or whatever to, to reach the UK. So in no way, shape or form, can it possibly really be said in real life that the UK is at the forefront of protecting Ukrainian refugees.

[00:05:38] Isabelle Roughol: So what are the visas that they can apply for, you know, provided, they're able to, to jump through those hoops, who, who are the Ukrainians who are welcome here.

[00:05:48] Colin Yeo: Well, I said at the start that the UK has done almost nothing. So there, there is something that the UK has done. So they've made it slightly easier to get a visa. If you are the family member of a British citizen, say if you are. If you are the immediate family member of a British citizen, which is quite closely defined.

[00:06:05] So if you're the spouse, um, or if you are the very dependent, um, rent, elderly relative, um, or, or sibling perhaps, um, of a British citizen, or if you're the childhood British citizen. So that's quite a narrow group of people and their home, that many Ukrainians in the UK either. So we're not talking about a very large number of people and basically those people should find it easily.

[00:06:28] To get a visa and the normal rules, things like the minimum income rule and, and stuff like that is being relaxed and waved by, by UK officials, um, on the ground. So it's easier for those people to get a visa than it would have been, but they still have to apply for a visa before they can travel to the UK.

[00:06:45] So it's not, the UK has done absolutely nothing. It's just almost absolutely nothing. They're kind of relaxed to the terms of, of some family visas. And, um, one of the things that's been confusing for lawyers like me, who've been trying to follow this is that the public announcements haven't actually been matched by, by home office policy.

[00:07:04] So for example, Boris Johnson, I'm losing track of what's happened when at this point in time it's all been so unrelenting and tiring, but, um, I think Boris Johnson yesterday said that, um, the family members of Ukrainians who are settled in the UK, Haven't taken up versus citizenship, um, that their family members will be able to reach the UK, but that that's not the case actually, you know, that the home office policy, as far as we can see as states on their website and as applied by officials on the ground is still that it's only, um, Ukrainian family members of British nationals.

[00:07:34] You creating super quiet British citizenship or, um, who were British in the first place, always were British and, and I've got the Ukrainian family. So.

[00:07:41] Isabelle Roughol: Oh, wow. I didn't know that I was going by, by the announcement that, that, uh, Ukrainians like non citizens settled here could, could sponsor people as well. So now it's just citizens right now.

[00:07:52] Colin Yeo: Yeah, I think your mistake there is taking Boris Johnson at face value because it turns out that's just not the case. And, and pretty Patel said in parliaments that, um, the elderly relative of, um, uh, of somebody who wasn't. She she's somebody somebody's mother and a specific example was cited in parliament by Yvette Cooper.

[00:08:09] Who's the shadow home secretary for labor and, um, um, pretty Patel said yes, that that person would build into, well, she hasn't been able to enter home office policy as stated on their website. Hasn't changed that she can't enter. And the actual policy that's being implemented on the ground is that she content it.

[00:08:26] So you've got politicians, Priti, Patel, Boris Johnson, saying things that. Yeah, I can't really think of another way of putting this, but it's just not true. I, and maybe it will become true. Maybe the policy will be amended at some point, but certainly at the time that they've said these things that has not been the policy of the British government, in fact, and it's not being implemented in that way on the ground.

[00:08:45] Although, you know, that may change, things are happening very quickly.

[00:08:48] Isabelle Roughol: Um, or we seen this before. I mean, there were announcements regarding of Galveston. Last summer that, um, took months to become reality in, in, in practice and in, and in law.

[00:09:00] Colin Yeo: Well, I may never have become reality. I know it's, it's one of the things that makes me. Quite cross about the, um, about the, some of the things we're hearing now from, from the government of the UK government about what's going to happen to Ukrainians? Um, yeah, pretty Patel said, um, a hundred thousand Ukrainians, uh, would be able to enter, uh, she's modified that to up to a hundred thousand, if we're all familiar with advertising speak, um, you know, the.

[00:09:26] Means that the number is worthless is no way a hundred thousand Ukrainians are eligible to enter under the rules that So far being announced. Um, and as you say, if we, if we go back to, um, the African resettlement scheme, that was announced by pretty Patel as being open. Last summer, um, now to be fair, you know, there was a crisis going on.

[00:09:45] It was a really urgent emergency situation. Um, but pretty Patel announced that this resettlement scheme was being launched and it simply wasn't, it was actually launched, um, in, in January 20, 22, several months later. And it turns out that it's not actually a resettlement scheme. It's really about trying to provide better support to the people who'd already been evacuated.

[00:10:06] So, so far, as far as I'm aware, No Africans have been resettled under this resettlement scheme that was announced in the summer last year, which was, you know, which took the pressure off the government at the time. It's easy to make these announcements. People stop, people, lose interest, essentially, but it turns out that you sort of quietly then qualify it and then, and then cancel it without anybody really noticing.

[00:10:29] Um, so that, that so-called resettlement scheme is actually a barracks. The Africans who. Evacuated during the summer in that those awful scenes, we saw people trying to get out of the country because of the Taliban advance. Um, it's not about resettling any members, any, any Afghan nationals who've, uh, already in Afghanistan are still in Afghanistan at the moment, or reflect, fled to surrounding countries.

[00:10:51] There's no way that those people can lawfully come to the UK. There's no queue for them to join. They're not going to get plucked at a refugee camp by British officials. It's just not happening as far as.

[00:11:01] "The government's been very consistent in being anti-refugee"

[00:11:01] Isabelle Roughol: So one thing that baffles me to be honest is, is why be so. So strict. And so, set against, um, welcoming Ukrainian refugees when you're seeing that there's actually quite overwhelming public support for them and, and just being very, um, very callous about it. Um, as, as refugees go, uh, white Christians from a country that's being attacked by an animal.

[00:11:30] Of of Britain, um, seems like the political cost would be quite small. Um, so are there other reasons for not wanting refugees to arrive in any number in.

[00:11:46] Colin Yeo: It's a difficult, or that's an impossible question to answer. I think catching, I don't know what's going on inside their minds. I've got no, no particular insight into that. Um, but I, what I, I think I can say is that, um, the government's been very consistent, shall we say, in being anti-refugee and being very reluctant, um, to see refugees and to the UK, which contrasts with some commentators, you know, Some people who, um, sound very welcoming to Ukrainian refugees.

[00:12:15] Um, but not, you know, they weren't welcoming to Syria in order to African refugees. And, and the reason for that one suspect is, is straightforward racism when it comes down to it. It's because the Ukrainians are whitened European. Um, the government to be fair, I suppose. It's not doing that. You know, they've been equally horrible to all refugees of all of all colors and origins.

[00:12:39] Um, they just don't. I think they just don't like refugees. So the fact that there is public support out there, isn't really the key issue is that that they're not entirely a Barron's public support. They also have convictions, these people And their convictions are that they don't like refugees. They don't want them in the UK.

[00:12:55] And so, you know that, that they're not letting them in basically.

[00:12:59] "The asylum system is in a really sorry state"

[00:12:59] Isabelle Roughol: And I saw you write also about just a state of the silent systems and that there would be the cues. Uh, the administrative cues are extremely long and then the, um, accommodation, even it is hard to find.

[00:13:14] Colin Yeo: Yeah. And the, the, the, the UK asylum system is in a really sorry state at the moment. Um, and I think that's something that Patel kind of tries to use herself. She, she talks about the asylum system being broken, but what she doesn't say is that she broke. Um, Yeah. the, the asylum system is in a really sorry state.

[00:13:34] Um, the delays for existing asylum seekers have really increased over the last three, four years. Um, basically almost trebled in the time that pretty Patel has been home secretary until she took over, uh, things were actually okay. Um, you know, the most asylum seekers were getting a decision within six months.

[00:13:52] They then get a decision on appeal within about six months. Um, the asylum accommodation. Yeah. Really unpleasant and, and asylum spot was very low, but people were going through that system relatively rapidly. But since she took over the delays have massively increased. Um, there's a huge backlog now. Um, all of the normal asylum accommodation is full.

[00:14:10] So people are being accommodated in hotels. They're being put into these, um, barracks even during a pandemic. Um, and. Yeah, the African scheme has turned out to be a disaster that nothing really happened for months and months to all those people who were evacuated. They're still in hotels, as I understand it.

[00:14:27] So now that the British state has kind of made these promises to the public and to Afghans themselves and then just totally fail to deliver on them. And I, I, maybe one of the reasons why, um, officials and ministers are reluctant to make an offer to Ukrainians is because they, they they're aware that.

[00:14:46] Yeah, they're in a sorry state already, but that said, you know, it's, it's not as if, um, that's not holding back other nationalities, other governments, you know, the polls aren't saying, oh, well we've already got lot refugee, so we're not taking anymore. You know, the Moldovans are a tiny country, incredibly poor.

[00:15:01] They've opened their borders. They're doing what they can. And, and in contrast, you know, that the UK is doing almost no.

[00:15:08] The Nationality and Borders bill

[00:15:08] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. Yeah. And we'll get to Europe and the EU in a minute. Just, just one last question around the UK. Um, we're in this context, um, yesterday, just as the UK was essentially, uh, you know, refusing to take in, um, Ukrainian refugees, the, the nationality and borders bill was being discussed, um, in the house of Lords.

[00:15:32] Um, can you briefly tell us. What that is about and, and you know, how it plays in this whole context of this, uh, incredibly strict, um, asylum and immigration policy.

[00:15:43] Colin Yeo: I can try. There's there's, there's quite a lot to the nationalists input is bell. So I think I sort of try and keep it as brief as I can. Um, and there, there are parts of it. I'm not going to talk about to do with nationality and so on as well, but the bits on asylum that there's, there's lots of it there, but really the theme of the changes that the government wants to make are that they want to penalize.

[00:16:03] Refugees who arrive in the UK, um, virus safe, third country. And there that's been a kind of ongoing thing for them. They say that you're not a real refugee. If you travel through a safe third country like France and, and coincidentally, it turns out that therefore, because the UK is an island that there's basically no real refugees.

[00:16:22] And that, you know, before I say anything else that contrasts with the actual asylum figures in the UK, where. Um, people think a lot of asylum seekers he claims on here, they're not really refugees. They're going to lose their cases. And so on. Well, actually 72% of asylum seekers who had decisions in 2021 were recognized as refugees or give them protection on some other grounds.

[00:16:45] So that, and that's from the home office. So the home office themselves. Yeah, nearly three quarters of refugees of who received decisions in that year were actually recognized as refugees. And then more will win on appeal as well. So you know that the census actually higher than that. So you've got officials on the ground applying the refugee convention quite proper.

[00:17:03] Um, but you've got ministers saying, oh, well they're not real refugees. Even there actually where we're giving them refugee status. So the idea of the national team board bill is that if you come through safe, third country, you'll be penalized in various different ways, or you'll be offshored, which is sent to some far away country where they'll take over your asylum claim basically, and accommodate you if you, if you are granted asylum.

[00:17:24] Um, and it's terrible timing from the government's point of view, I guess, because people can see that it's just a fundamentally. Failure of solidarity to those refugees, but also to other countries like Poland and Moldova, if we say, okay, you're not a real refugee, so we're going to send you. Yeah, you should've stayed in Poland.

[00:17:45] You should've stayed in Moldova. Um, and, and that's the whole philosophy of that legislation. And so, yeah, it's going through parliament at the moment of the house of Lords, um, voted on, on certain amendments just last night and, and rejected a lot of this stuff. Um, what the government does in response work.

[00:18:00] We're not sure, but they'll probably trust, try and force it through the commons and force the Lords to, um, to, to, to, um, to agree to it at some later date. So I think we're, we're still expecting that legislation to come into force. Even though this crisis, I think demonstrates to people that this idea of a safe third country is, is not a good one.

[00:18:21] Europe's response is a sharp contrast

[00:18:21] Isabelle Roughol: So by contrast, the EU has pretty much open borders. It took them a couple days, right at the beginning, um, looked as if the EU, maybe wasn't going to be so generous, but, but what have they announced now? What's the, what's the legal situation for people fleeing into European neighboring countries.

[00:18:43] Colin Yeo: So sappy, I don't follow European law as closely as I used to, since we, since we left the EU. But I might, my understanding is that yeah, the borders have been open right from the start actually, um, Ukrainian. Could always be admitted, um, for, for a period of three months into the Schengen area. And that's, that's been going on.

[00:19:01] Um, I think the EU is currently negotiating, um, a sort of more comprehensive response. There's no urgent need for it because Ukrainians are entering for three months anyway, under existing rules. But what the, what the EU is looking at is allowing, uh, I think a three year period. Um, of residents to any Ukrainian simply because of the nationality, without them having to prove, um, that, that they've got their refugee as defined in international law.

[00:19:27] And I think of that nature, there's talk about activating the temporary protection directive, which was, um, adopted. Um, quite early in, in European asylum sort of system, um, back in the early two thousands, really in response to what had happened in, um, in the Balkans, um, in the, in the previous decade. Um, and so that hasn't happened yet, but it looks like it's going to, and the EU is basically saying, look, if you're Ukrainian, we've recognized that you, you can't come back to Ukraine and you can stay here and it will be lawful stay

[00:19:58] Isabelle Roughol: Hmm with work permits and, and all of that.

[00:20:02] Colin Yeo: as I understand it. Yes.

[00:20:03] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's quite more generous than then we actions we've seen too, um, Syrian the Syrian crisis or, or the Afghan crisis.

[00:20:13] Colin Yeo: Yes.

[00:20:14] it is. It is. Um, I think to be fair, you know, some individual EU countries are, seem to respond quite well to the Syrian crisis. So Germany, the sort of famous line we can cope from Angela Merkel, um, other countries. Very very harshly and, you know, built board offenses. Um, refugees died trying to cross those borders, um, and to enter via Greece and so on.

[00:20:41] Um, and it's, it's certainly true that the, there is a real contrast with, um, the way that Ukrainians are being welcomed by some of those countries who refuse to welcome Syrian.

[00:20:52] International students and other non-white refugees stopped at borders

[00:20:52] Isabelle Roughol: And speaking of that contrast, which, which of course is, is connected to, um, racism. Let's be honest. Um, The, um, we we've seen a lot of people. Uh, some of the people fleeing Ukraine, obviously it is a diverse country. It's actually home to more than 75,000 foreign students, international students, um, as well as refugees from other conflicts that had found refuge in Ukraine.

[00:21:18] Um, and I, and I was seeing also, um, 35,000 stateless people, which is quite a, quite a big number. Uh, So, you know what our protections and rights for them, uh, if they can't show a Ukrainian passport.

[00:21:33] Colin Yeo: I don't know the answer to that actually. And I imagine a lot of those people, if they are able to leave Ukraine and we've seen scenes of some of them being refused boarding to trains and Ukrainian nationals being given preference. And now those are, those are really difficult choices that officials on the ground are facing because they don't have unlimited evacuation capacity.

[00:21:53] They're having to make choices about who gets places and who doesn't and they're giving preference to Ukrainian nationals. Um, but if they are able to leave, um, then a lot of them will probably be wanting to return to their home countries in any event, you know, if they're foreign students and so on those who aren't, I simply don't know what's going to happen to them, but, um, you know, they'd have a good claim under EU law to what's called subsidiary protection.

[00:22:19] Um, at this stage in the company, It's actually quite difficult to say whether somebody has a case to be a refugee under the refugee convention, you have to show a well-founded fear of being persecuted for one of the convention reasons, your political opinion, your religion, your race, your nationality, your membership, particular social group.

[00:22:37] And, um, you know, when the Russians don't read. Controlled territory at the moment or much territory. We don't know what they're doing in that territory. It's quite hard to say that you'd be persecuted for one of those reasons as such. You'd be caught as a civilian. You'd be in serious danger. Nobody's doubting that.

[00:22:54] Um, and that's why. Um, subsidiary protection exist. It's kind of international human rights law, humanitarian law, and it offers protection to people who are caught in a conflict like that. Um, and, and it means that they're entitled to asylum, although not necessarily to refugees.

[00:23:11] Isabelle Roughol: Right. So it's just kind of short-term protection, getting people out of harm's way. And, and then we'll see.

[00:23:18] Colin Yeo: Yeah, it's the sort of thing that the lawyers like me get quite excited about the difference between this and refugee sort of status, but actually it's essentially the same in European law. So, you know, the recognition is that yes, you need protection and you can have it for the same period as refugee, which is five years.

[00:23:33] So if those people do claim asylum, you know, at this point, I say it's a bit difficult to say whether they are or aren't refugees are so. But they would be entitled. I'd have thoughts to, to their subsidiary.

[00:23:44] Isabelle Roughol: Um, do you think given historical precedent, um, that we can trust Europe's generosity for the long run? Uh, you know, when, when perhaps Ukraine has moved out of the, of the headline.

[00:23:59] Colin Yeo: I don't know, I inspired, I suppose it depends how far back you go. So the analogy that comes to mind is the, Um, the time that the Soviet tanks rolled into to Hungary in 1956, and there was a huge efforts to accommodate the refugees who fled them out 200,000 Hungarians fled at that time. And they were resettled and they, it was clear from the start.

[00:24:24] That once the tanks had rolled in those people, wouldn't be able to return. And there was therefore a permanent resettlement exercise, um, and country stepped up and did their part. Um, w I think we all hope that, you know, for the sake of Ukrainians that they want to it's a lot of them will want to go back, um, and that they will be able to go back at some point, but goodness knows when that's going to be at this point.

[00:24:49] It's just so early in the conflict, which is.

[00:24:53] How you can help

[00:24:53] Isabelle Roughol: Um, finally, if people want to help, um, you know, whether they're, um, in the UK and Europe, and is there anything that they can do that they can contribute to?

[00:25:04] Colin Yeo: So if you, colleagues of mine have set up a project to try and help Ukrainians who might be eligible to come to the UK, um, it's a really fluid situation. So we're trying to keep track of what the legal requirements are at any given time. Um, the website is advice-ukraine.co.uk. Um, and if you had there, you can sign up to try and help.

[00:25:27] And, um, yeah, it's, it's the sort of details of being circulated on, on my own website, free movement, um, and also via LPAA. Um, and if you send an email to Ukrainevolunteers@freemovement.org.uk, then we'll . Get back to you and we'll let you know how you can help. But if people are wanting to give help more directly to Ukraine and to those caught in the conflict, then I point people to the Ukrainian embassy and their websites.

[00:25:51] And they've got detailed.

[00:25:53] Isabelle Roughol: Great. Thank you so much for this concise and very helpful explanation. Um, I, I really appreciate it. Are you hopeful at all that the position from, from the UK might change? I mean, they've been criticized quite a lot over the week.

[00:26:10] Colin Yeo: I just don't know. I think, um, I think when I heard some of the. Statements, for example, from Boris Johnson, I thought that a change of position was imminent and the UK would do more, that hasn't happened and I'm starting to think it's not going to happen. I just don't know. And there's, there's an awful lot of public pressure on the government, but, um, but they so far seem to be very much sticking to their guns that, um, you know, visas won't be relaxed.

[00:26:35] And, um, only a very narrow group of Ukrainians we'll be able to.

[00:26:40] Isabelle Roughol: Okay, well, thank you so much for sharing your expertise. I appreciate it.

[00:26:45] Colin Yeo: It's punch talking. Thanks very much. Thank you.

[00:26:47] Outro

[00:26:47] Isabelle Roughol: That was Colin Yeo, immigration, lawyer and founder of Free Movement. Now I'm trying to get this podcast out as soon as possible this afternoon. Of course, the second that we hung up the call, there was some new developments announced.

[00:27:09] So Priti Patel is speaking in the House of Commons right now, talking about expanding the definition of family, uh, for the purpose of visa sponsorships, so that parents and adult siblings will be able to come in as well. And a new visa scheme for British citizens and companies to sponsor Ukrainians seeking to come to the UK.

[00:27:33] Now, as Colin was reminding us, the devil's in the details. There is a wide wide gap between measures that are being announced by politicians and then their applications on the ground and into law. And that's often where we see things magically disappear as the news cycle moves on, as we've seen with the Afghan resettlement scheme.

[00:27:55] So time will tell and unfortunately there isn't all that much time for a lot of people.

[00:28:02] As Colin was also reminding us, you can support Ukrainian refugees by going through various organizations. You're all listening from so many countries that it's hard for me to point to any single one, but try going to the Ukrainian embassy in your own country for a list of where you might be able to help and donate.

[00:28:22] And don't forget that there are refugees from all sorts of places and you can support them throughout the year and not just when the news compels us to, by going to organizations like the International Rescue Committee, for instance, or whatever works where you are.

[00:28:37] Thank you so much for listening and for paying attention. I know it's a weird time in news and it feels like history is just coming at us nonstop for pretty much the last two years. But if you're listening like me, you're probably safe and sound somewhere. And I think we can be very grateful for that.

[00:28:54] Go to isabelleroughol.com for essays, past episodes, and to sign up for the newsletter so you don't miss anything. We'll be back next week on our regular schedule of new essays and or podcast episodes every Wednesday.

[00:29:07] I'm your host, Isabelle Roughol. Music was by Audionautix. Borderline is a One Lane Bridge production.

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Isabelle Roughol Twitter

Journalist, podcaster, media consultant. Telling stories & building better newsrooms. Writes The Lede. Ex- LinkedIn News, Le Figaro, The Cambodia Daily. 🎓 Mizzou '08, Birkbeck '25.