The Next Ukraine Tragedy? Britain’s Liberal Democrats and Labour Party, two of the biggest opposition parties in the House of Commons, criticized the Conservative government this week over reports that tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees could be left homeless by next year.
Aid organizations in the United Kingdom, including Refugees at Home, warn that when the government’s initial six-month housing scheme for Ukrainian refugees – known as the Homes for Ukraine scheme – comes to an end, 83,900 refugees who have arrived in the country since March will be left without anywhere to live. The plan matched refugees with willing sponsors in the United Kingdom who were prepared to provide housing for a period of six months, paying each sponsor £350 per month in return.
Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy, a Labour Member of Parliament, described the figures as “shocking,” emphasizing the “scale of the crisis about to hit refugee families who came to Britain under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, fleeing Putin’s war.”
Labour Party Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also put pressure on the government to “offer more support,” warning that financial assistance must be increased to “prevent a disastrous rise in homelessness.”
Will Refugees from Ukraine Really Go Homeless?
Britain’s Conservative government, led by outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, spearheaded the plan to allow Ukrainian refugees to enter the United Kingdom and is unlikely to abandon them. By September 5, the Conservative Party will have chosen its new leader – likely Liz Truss – and a new government will be formed.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have good reason to attack the conservatives over the future of Ukrainian refugees in the country. The Conservative Party is vulnerable. Following the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opposition parties have pushed tirelessly for the prime minister to call a snap general election to decide, while simultaneously working hard to discredit candidates vying to become the next prime minister.
With the war in Ukraine dominating the media and political landscape right now, the issue of Ukrainian refugees is a good one for opposition parties – but this criticism is only likely to push the Conservative Party to provide more funding for the Homes for Ukraine scheme and protect those refugees already living in the United Kingdom.
British Refugees Minister Lord Harrington has already called on the government to increase the monthly payments to £700, and the government is appealing for new sponsors to keep the plan going. While the recommendations have yet to become policy, either the outgoing prime minister will make last-minute changes to the program or that decision will be left to the next prime minister arriving at 10 Downing Street next week.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.