Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:48 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns Conservative, Chelmsford 6:48 pm, 30th January 2017

No; I have not got time. The Executive order will result in further radicalisation. It will do the exact opposite of what some people think it will do. It will not make the United States any safer; it will make it a more dangerous place. That is an irony, and it is unacceptable.

I take issue with some of the comments I have heard during this debate and during the statement, in that I think it is absolutely right that the British Government continue the work of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to build bridges with President Trump so that we can, through engagement, seek to persuade him and to minimise or reduce the danger of his more outrageous policies. We can do that only by being a candid friend, but we have to be a candid friend.

I believe that very little would be achieved by cancelling a state visit to which the invitation has already been extended and accepted. It is part of a process of seeking to engage, encourage and persuade. There is, however, one area at which we should look very carefully. Some will remember that in 1982 or 1983, President Ronald Reagan had a state visit to this country, but it was decided by the then Thatcher Government that there should not be an address to the joint Houses of Parliament.

Similarly, I remember, as a Member of this House, the state visit of President George W. Bush. Apart from a sojourn in Durham at Trimdon Labour club, I believe, for lunch with the then Prime Minister, all President Bush did was to travel in the Beast from Buckingham Palace to No. 10 and back again. There was no address to the joint Houses of Parliament. In the circumstances, I think that that was rather wise. We and the Government —and you, Mr Speaker—should think very carefully before considering such an address as part of the programme for a state visit by President Trump, because it might not go as well as everyone would naturally expect.

In conclusion, this ban is nasty, it is immoral and it will not succeed. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and his deputy, my right hon. Friend Sir Alan Duncan, as well as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, have a key role to play because the ban will last for 90 days, which in theory means that it is part time and transitory. I am not convinced that that will be the case in reality. The challenge for the Government is to do all they can to influence President Trump about its counterproductive nature and the danger that it will pose in radicalising rather than pacifying those who espouse radical extremist thinking; and to persuade him that there are better ways than this very blunt weapon to pursue a policy of reconciliation. The best way to do so is to communicate and negotiate with the reasonable elements in the middle east and work together to overcome the threat to this country, the United States and elsewhere.