DAME Margaret Beckett has slammed the Government’s “incompetent” handling of the evacuation fleeing Ukrainians.
The former Foreign Secretary said the UK should have welcomed more men, women and children from war torn Ukraine – and pointed the finger squarely at the Home Secretary.
Speaking to GB News she said: “If Priti Patel had her way I don’t think we’d welcome anybody into the country at all. It’s not looking like caution. But gross incompetence. We’ve seen a very hardline approach on immigration which just doesn’t square with the rhetoric at all about how we are a country always looking to welcome people from persecution.”
Mrs Beckett also suggested that Vladimir Putin’s behaviour was indicative of somebody showing the signs of being unwell.
She said: “What Putin has done is so extraordinary that either he is ill or that there are other problems we don’t know about. He’s clearly lost touch with reality. For him to believe that Ukraine was just going to welcome in Russia, you do have to worry.”
The MP for Derby South, who served as the first female Foreign Secretary, also revealed for the first time the shock she felt following the murder of Russian defector Alexander Alexander Litvinenko
She told GB News’ Alastair Stewart: “I was Foreign Secretray when they murdered Litvinenko and when I first heard about it, my immediate thought was that it was the work of gangster elements in Russia rather than the Government. I was taken aback when I was told by my advisers the truth. My first thought was surely no Government would do that. I later kicked myself for naivety.”
Mrs Beckett’s comments come days after she stated her intention to retire. She announced her decision at a local Labour Party constituency meeting on Friday.
First elected in 1974, Mrs Beckett was also the first woman to briefly serve as party leader.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hailed Mrs Beckett, calling her a “trailblazer”.
Mrs Beckett served as acting leader of the party in 1994 after the sudden death of John Smith.
That year, she ran for election to lead the party full-time, but lost to Tony Blair, who would later make her foreign secretary.
She remains the only sitting MP to have served as a minister and junior minister under the last four Labour prime ministers.
She said “serving the residents of Derby South has been an honour”.
The 79-year-old was first elected as MP for Derby South in 1983, having previously been the MP for Lincoln.