Boris Johnson and the press release of the Good Samaritan
The Prime Minister’s repeated claims of friendship towards the Ukrainian people have not been matched by his actions.
If caring for the Ukrainian people could be measured in press releases then they would have few greater friends than Boris Johnson.
Not a day has gone by in the past week without Downing Street sending out at least one release detailing the Prime Minister’s latest heartfelt message to Ukraine, or his latest pledge of comradeship to President Zelensky.
Yet when it comes to taking actual practical steps to help Ukrainian refugees, Johnson’s undying offer of friendship appears to have dried up.
Despite citing the UK’s “proud history” of helping refugees, the Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday failed to match the generous offer made by the rest of the EU.
A pledge to take in family members of Ukrainians in the UK quickly fell apart when the Home Office confirmed that it excluded almost all typical family members.
Under pressure from some Conservative MPs to change course, Downing Street initially suggested at Monday lunchtime that the Home Secretary would announce a change to these rules later in the day.
Yet when she appeared in the House of Commons, Priti Patel was vague on what, if any, changes she was announcing.
When pushed by Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper on whether older parents of Ukrainians living in the UK would now be allowed in, she insisted that they would.
If true, this would have been a significant expansion of the eligibility rules previously announced by the government.
However, when I called the Home Office to check what had actually changed I was stunned to discover that, in fact, nothing had.