Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:03 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Labour, Birmingham, Ladywood 8:03 pm, 30th January 2017

I will not, because of the time. I do apologise.

I want to make a point about British values. As a British Muslim parliamentarian, I have spoken a lot in this House about British values. I have also heard a lot from this Government about British values. In fact, I have often felt that the Government feel that the British Muslim community needs to do more to uphold those values. We have heard famous phrases such as “muscular liberalism”, and we have been told that we need to give strong and vocal support to our respect for democracy, the rule of law, equality and tolerance for everyone and every group in this country. We are told that we as a community have to step up to the plate and call out behaviours that do not match with our British values. If we as a community fail to do that, we have the threat of the Prevent strategy hanging over us. As I watched the Prime Minister’s limp, weak and shameful response to this Muslim ban, I hope I can be forgiven for wondering whether the British Government would consider referring themselves to their own Prevent strategy for failing to provide that strong, vocal, muscularly liberal defence of our British values.

I am reminded of the recent Casey review of integration in our communities, one of whose recommendations was held up by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It stated that we could increase

“standards of leadership and integrity in public office, by…ensuring that British values such as respect for the rule of law, equality and tolerance are enshrined in the principles of public life and developing a new oath for holders of public office.”

I wonder how many members of the Government would feel, if they had taken such an oath, that they had fulfilled that promise by calling out this behaviour on the part of the American President in the way that they should have done. I feel that they have not fulfilled any such promise, and that they have therefore undermined the very case that they make for our own values. That is a real shame.

I have a final point about the personal impact that the ban is having on Muslims around the world, particularly the almost 3 million British Muslim citizens. As a British Muslim, I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that people among my family, friends and community feel terrified. They fear that this is a portent of what is to come. We live in an age of supremacists. Whether the Muslim supremacists of ISIL or the white supremacists who think they have achieved their life’s dream with the new Administration in the White House, supremacists are on the rise around the world. In this age of supremacists and their success, we have a duty to call them out, to stand up to them and to say, “Not on our watch.” We have a duty to provide comfort and security to all our minority communities. We will not let them down. We will not stand by. We will stand up and be counted.