Sadiq Khan says UK government’s approach to Ukraine refugees is ‘appalling’

London mayor makes comment at London rally against Russian invasion

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks to the media before a solidarity march in the city for Ukraine. PA

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London mayor Sadiq Khan has said UK government red tape around visas for Ukrainians is “appalling”.

He spoke on Saturday to people demonstrating in the British capital against the Russian invasion.

“We’ve been lobbying [the UK government] for weeks now to do what other countries in mainland Europe have done to make it far more easy for those people fleeing for their lives to be able to come to London,” he said.

“There’s a disconnect between the generosity shown by Londoners ... and the actions of our government.

“The complex visa forms, the delay, the red tape makes it really hard. I spoke yesterday to a Londoner who, finally, after four weeks, has been able to open his home to a Ukrainian. It shouldn’t be that hard.

“I speak on a regular basis to leaders in Germany, in France, in Italy, in Spain and Poland. And what I compare and contrast what we as a country have done from our government versus those, I’m embarrassed.”

The rally in support of Ukraine was convened at the behest of President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who a few days ago called for people around the globe to take to the streets in solidarity to show their support.

Crowds dressed in blue and yellow marched through central London holding banners reading “stop Putin’s war”, “no fly zone” and “solidarity with Ukraine”. They sang as police officers followed.

Speeches will be made by Ukrainian politicians, European leaders and Mr Khan himself.

The London mayor also expressed his gratitude to people offering rooms to refugees and urged them to continue to show generosity.

“Well, I’m full of admiration for everyone who’s opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees,” he said.

“I’ve been incredibly proud at the actions of Londoners over the last few days and weeks. And what’s clear is we are sending a message loud and clear that refugees are welcome here.”

Updated: March 26, 2022, 4:07 PM