Questioned on Monday by Labour MP Chris Bryant about preparations made for dealing with refugees, Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said: “It’s really a matter for the Home Secretary.” Pressed on whether it may also be the FCO’s job to arrange for the biometric tests that are compulsory for refugees, she responded: “Exactly how the visa process works is, I believe, a Home Office responsibility.”
On Tuesday, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, questioned by Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about Britain’s response to the crisis, declared, “I don’t think we are bottling it’, and said the UK had helped train Ukrainian forces and had provided more than a thousand anti-air and anti-tank missiles. He defended the Government’s refugee plan, saying that Britain would accept 200,000 under the scheme to help those with relatives already in Britain and pledged to offer the Home Office assistance with what he called the “basic security check” for refugees. However, pressed further about the small number being allowed entry, he said: “I am not the Home Secretary.”
What has been crystal clear is that there is precious little of the anti-refugee feeling among British people that might have explained Home Office reluctance to speed things up. Indeed, the opposite has been the case with millions of pounds raised by charities and churches and others bodies swamped with offers of help.
Sadly, unless I’m much mistaken, it seems that the old accusation against the Home Office remains true.