Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:52 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport) 7:52 pm, 30th January 2017

I am grateful for the opportunity to express my views on this issue on behalf of the many constituents who have contacted me in the last 48 hours to register their disgust at the actions of President Trump. The petition, which many of my constituents have signed, calling for Donald Trump to be prevented from making a state visit to the UK has to be one of the fastest growing petitions ever, with the number of signatures approaching 1.5 million. The popularity of this petition shows the disdain and horror that the people of the UK feel towards the US President and his hateful and bigoted policies.

When this House previously debated Donald Trump, I called him an idiot. The truth is that he is something far worse; he has in a very short time managed to prove himself an incompetent, unthinking tyrant who in less than two weeks in office has already caused massive disruption to thousands of people, mass demonstrations against his policies and untold damage to the reputation of the United States, a country that I love but whose chosen path is deeply worrying to the rest of the world.

Each and every day, families live in fear because they have had the audacity to flee a war-torn country. Victims of these hateful and poisonous acts look to authority figures and lawmakers to help solve these issues and to protect them, not turn them away from the gates of sanctuary.

Trump’s immigration ban will send a message to bigots, bullies and racists the world over that their views are not only legitimate, but entirely correct. In other words, anyone who may look, speak or act differently is not to be trusted.

We need to be absolutely crystal clear in opposing the imposition of blanket bans on people on the basis of their birthplace, nationality or religion. This ban is divisive, and fails to distinguish between appropriate measures to deal with extremism and terrorism and the millions of people who wish to go about their lives in peace and safety, including refugees who are running away from the terrorists. It will lead to innocent people being detained at airports and, as many Members have said, will play straight into the terrorists’ hands.

The Prime Minister must be clear about our obligations as global actors under international law to oppose a ban based on people’s origin or faith. Securing exemptions for UK citizens is not enough, and if that is the limit of our ambition, I am ashamed.

It is our collective responsibility to speak up for tolerance, equality and providing refuge for those in the greatest need. I strongly believe that it would be wrong for a state visit by President Trump to go ahead while his Administration maintain a blanket ban on refugees and citizens of certain countries travelling to the United States. I commend everyone who has signed this petition and people protesting all over the UK against President Trump tonight.

Like my hon. Friend Mr MacNeil, I feel the burn of shame at President Trump’s Scottish roots. I would have hoped that, in this Burns season, Trump remembered the words of Robert Burns in his famous verse, “A Man’s A Man for A’That”, which finishes with the refrain:

That Man to Man, the world o’er

Shall brothers be for a’
that.”

The vast majority of people right across the UK are crying out for their Prime Minister and Government to exhibit a much stronger and more principled position on this Executive order. We have been told time and again from the Dispatch Box by Ministers that it is imperative that strong or special relationships are maintained so we can make direct representations to our friends on issues such as human rights violations. I disagree, but let us see the Government prove their worth. This so-called special relationship has never been so important. The Prime Minister cravenly rushed across the Atlantic at the earliest opportunity to be the first world leader to meet the President, a decision she was warned against, and one that looks worse and worse as each baffling pronouncement is made from the White House. If this relationship is to mean anything, let this House and the protestors both outside this building and right across the country send a strong message to President Trump that we will not stand in silence and bend a knee to hate, wherever, and from whatever building, that hate emanates.