Conservative Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh has defended his comments on Ukraine refugees in the House of Commons this week, insisting his message had been misinterpreted.
Local people, business owners, politicians and celebrities criticised Sir Edward’s view that Lincolnshire had ‘done its bit’ for Eastern European migrants.
He had congratulated Home Secretary Priti Patel for measures to allow some Ukraine family members to rejoin UK relatives, but added: “We’re under extreme pressure in terms of housing and jobs.”
Backlash came in waves, particularly once highlighted by TV dragon Deborah Meaden.
Local people described the MP’s comments as ‘tone deaf’ and heartless’, but he has since stated he was misinterpreted.
Sir Edward Leigh issued a statement on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 2:
“I reiterate my comments from last week that the Russian attack on Ukraine is a totally unprovoked and unjustified aggression, and the Government must be vigorous in the practical assistance it provides to Ukraine, which it has followed through on.
“Unfortunately my comments this week welcoming the Government’s generous offer to allow as many as 200,000 Ukrainian refugees into the United Kingdom seem to have been misinterpreted or taken out of context because I highlighted that Lincolnshire’s needs still require government attention.
“The Home Office has been working very hard over the course of recent weeks in anticipation of an invasion to stand up a comprehensive package of support for those fleeing Ukraine and for Ukrainian nationals already in the UK,” the MP continued.
“The situation is developing quickly and so the Government has to evolve its plans to adapt. The new expansive Ukrainian Family Scheme which will enable British nationals and Ukrainians already settled in the UK to bring a wider group of family members to the country, extending eligibility to parents, grandparents, adult offspring, and siblings.”
Deborah Meaden was among those ready with a comeback: