From referendum to Covid, UK has resettled more refugees than any EU27 country

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readMar 14, 2022

President Macron has blamed the problem of illegal immigration across the English Channel on the UK, saying “There is no legal immigration route” — which encouraged people to hunt out people traffickers. Now he’s attacking the UK for not doing enough to help Ukrainians.

The evidence shows both accusations are wrong

Analysed the figures to show there are legal routes and these result in more refugees being resettled by the UK than by any EU27 country, including France.

Today, (Mon 14 Mar 2022), the UK government is unveiling a new scheme to help give additional safe routes to Ukrainian refugees in addition to the two safe routes already announced.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France

“The British continue to have a system from the 1980s which manages economic immigration through hypocrisy.”

“There is no legal immigration route.”

“The British must articulate their needs in terms of the economy and reopen a path to legal asylum requests. We are going to step up the pressure.”

President Emmanuel Macron, La Voix du Nord, 24 February 2022

President Macron is factually incorrect in every respect

The French President’s remarks are simply not true, as I demonstrate below from analysis of the official figures from the EU’s own Statistics Agency, which I have checked with those from the UK Home Office.

The facts show the UK does more than its fair share in resettling refugees

1. Total refugees resettled from 2016–19 (pre-Covid)

  1. United Kingdom: 22,805
  2. Sweden : 15,520
  3. France : 14,385
  4. Germany : 12,345
  5. Netherlands: 6,060

2. The details, year-by-year

  • In 2016 the UK resettled more refugees (5,180) than any other EU country, next was Sweden (2,155) and third was Germany (1,240).
  • In 2017 the UK resettled more refugees (6,210) than any other EU country, next was Sweden (3,410) and third was Germany (3,015).
  • In 2018, the UK again resettled more refugees (5,805) than any other EU country, next was France (5,565) and third was Sweden (4,935).
  • In 2019, the UK continued to resettle more refugees (5,610) than any other EU country, next was France (5,600) and third was Sweden (5,005).

[ Source: The EU Commission’s own official statistics ]

The numbers shown are resettlement through legal routes to immigration — which President Macron says do not exist in the UK. Not only do they exist but France has always been behind the UK.

An EU crisis, but the UK has stepped up

Since Russia’s President Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February the worst European refugee crisis since WWII has manifested itself with well over 2 million refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries by crossing the borders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.

The UK announced two methods for Ukrainian refugees to gain entry to the UK by legal routes. The first was for Ukrainian relations of British Nationals — with the list of relations being extended since first announced. The second was for community-sponsored Ukrainians.

Now there is a new support scheme for people to give accommodation to Ukrainian refugees on a temporary basis, with financial compensation of £350 per month. Local councils will also receive thousands of pounds per refugee. Details will be released today by Michael Gove.

The UK has a proud history

This latest scheme comes on top of the existing resettlement schemes for Afghan refugees (7,000 so far through the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), with another 20,000 anticipated under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), Syrian refugees (25,000 admitted) and Hong Kong citizens given rights to work and study in the UK that could lead to British citizenship.

In evidence given to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on 2nd February, the Home Secretary Priti Patel stated the government was “absolutely struggling” to find accommodation for 12,000 people from Afghanistan who remained in hotels after being evacuated last year. Some 4,000 had been found permanent homes but when it came to finding housing for the rest she admitted, “We do not have the infrastructure … in terms of housing and accommodation.” The Home Office’s Second Permanent Secretary reported the daily cost of Asylum seekers in hotels is £1.2m.

President Macron’s hypocrisy must be called out

What this demonstrates is that President Macron’s repeated attempts to brand the UK as the problem are not just ill-judged, they are untrue.

The legal routes for immigration and for refugees exist — and are growing in number. There is no need for people traffickers to be making millions out of the misery of refugees. The reality is that those people coming across the channel on boats — now put at 41,354 since the boat landings first started in 2018 — are making it more difficult to house the Ukrainian refugees.

Macron would be better at helping the UK to deal with the problem than blaming Britain. You would be tempted to think there must be a French election this year. Oh, look!

As usual, the BBC and broadcast media aren’t helping

If ever there was an example of unjust attacks on the UK for not doing enough to help the plight of Ukraine it has to be the claim repeated on the TV channels that there is no generosity or compassion in helping the refugees from Putin’s war.

We are told there are never enough people being helped and it is never quick enough. This is unjust and reeks of questionable motives.

What is not being taken into account is how the existing generosity of the UK in helping refugees from Afghanistan, Syria and other countries around the world — as well as offering support to qualifying Hong Kong residents — has placed a huge strain on the resources and infrastructure to help.

There is just not enough temporary accommodation in our country. Like most countries, the UK already has a homelessness problem and rising housing costs, which is why the new schemes for Ukrainian refugees are based on accessing personal and community support.

By linking the help of Ukrainian refugees to people making their own rooms and properties available, new resources can be opened up that would otherwise not be accessed. British people are offering to help and the government is taking them at their word.

[ Sources: Home Office | Eurostat ]

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.