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Ukraine war: Former Manston barracks could help Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian invasion, says Kent MP

Kent MP Sir Roger Gale has called on the government to consider using the former barracks at Manston to help refugees fleeing from Ukraine.

The North Thanet MP raised the issue in the Commons this afternoon with Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre at Manston, in Thanet
The former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre at Manston, in Thanet

She was outlining "phase two" of the UK's support package for Ukrainian refugees.

Ms Patel said the family scheme would be extended so that British nationals could bring over a wider group of relatives.

Sir Roger said there could be a role for the barracks site, the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre which has moved to a new site in the Cotswolds.

He said: “In East Kent we have a team of people ready, willing and able to take cars and coaches to the Polish border and to bring them back to Britain.

"We have, as she knows, a processing centre at Manston Barracks capable of doing this.

Conservative MP for North Thanet, Sir Roger Gale
Conservative MP for North Thanet, Sir Roger Gale

"Can we do as we did in 1956 and 1968 and that is to cut through the red tape and get these people home so their menfolk who are fighting and dying in the street at least know that their women and children are safe?”

In her reply, the Home Secretary sounded a note of caution.

She said: “That is exactly what we are doing and in terms of the routes and pathways – it also means working with countries in the region which is what is happening right now.

"The dialogue with the Polish government, the Hungarian government and the Czech government has been going on, we are working with them in terms of how we get people out of the region who want to come to the UK.”

She added: “It is important to recognise that this does come down to the situation on the ground in not just Ukraine but those countries that are receiving refugees right now.

Priti Patel (Aaron Chown/PA)
Priti Patel (Aaron Chown/PA)

"It is very difficult as they have constraints and capacity issues.”

Tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing Ukraine as the fighting with Russia intensifies, many seeking refuge in the Polish border.

Charities have warned of a humanitarian crisis with an estimated 160,000 people who have fled the war-torn Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Ashford MP Damian Green said the situation was “not just another migration crisis but a crisis of war".

He urged the government to be flexible and pragmatic when it came to refugees.

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