Changes in Us Immigration Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:36 pm on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 8:36 pm, 30th January 2017

Given that the emergency debate has had me rushing to the Dispatch Box at short notice, I have not been involved in any such discussions so I cannot give the right hon. Lady a categorical answer, but one can speculate on what political events might now unfold. Executive orders are, at least, limited for 90 days. They are a command from the president to instruct Congress to do something, so the order will now move to Congress within the democratic process of the United States. They have their democracy as we have ours, and this will ultimately be their political decision. I have no doubt that there will be strong political voices within the United States, as we have heard today in this House and, indeed, outside it.

I reiterate that the order is not the kind of policy of which this Government approve or would ever introduce. As the Foreign Secretary said in his statement earlier, we have already made very clear our anxiety about measures that discriminate on grounds of nationality in ways that we consider to be divisive and wrong. Indeed, it does not really help—although it is true—to say that, although all the countries listed are Muslim countries, the list does not include all Muslim countries. In fact, the vast majority—[Interruption.] Rushanara Ali might just listen to the point I am trying to make. Although the vast majority of the Muslim world is not mentioned in the Executive order, the political language around it is unacceptably anti-Muslim. As such, it is divisive and wrong, and will cause an effect in the entire Muslim community.

As the Prime Minister expressed during her visit to the States last week, the point of having a special relationship is to have frank and honest discussions on all issues, whether we agree or disagree. We do not hesitate to state that, although US immigration policy is ultimately a matter for the US Government, we do not agree with this kind of approach. It would be wrong to think that the relationship means that we agree on every issue. That has never been the case throughout the history of the special relationship. One could cite the example of former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson not joining the US in fighting in Vietnam.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon clearly said—frankly, he has spoken in today’s debate with extraordinarily personal and moral authority—we should not forget the indispensable nature of this country’s alliance with the US. In defence, intelligence and security, we work together more closely than any other two countries in the world. America’s leadership role in NATO, which the Prime Minister was able to reaffirm and reconfirm in her visit, is the ultimate guarantor of security in Europe. The President told the Prime Minister of his 100% commitment to NATO. The trade relationship is of importance; we export more to the US than any other nation. The relationship is overwhelmingly to our benefit. I believe very strongly that the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House last week underlined the strength of that transatlantic alliance. Where we have differences with the United States, we will not shy away from them, and we will express them clearly, as I have done today, but I also echo the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister in repeating our resolve to work alongside the Trump Administration in our mutual interest.