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Debates
Wednesday, 1 February 2017 - Brussels Revised edition

12. Travel restrictions following US President executive orders (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  Syed Kamall, on behalf of the ECR Group . – Mr President, according to a study by the Cato Institute – a well-respected and classically liberal US think-tank – no American has been killed since 1975 on US soil by a national from any of the seven countries listed in President Trump’s executive order. So those of us who believe that law should be fair, that there should be equality under the law, that the primary functions of law should be enforcement of contracts and social order, will rightly be concerned by this arbitrary ban, which affects not only Muslims, but also affects Christians fleeing persecution and war. Sending a message that there is some inherent contradiction between being a good Muslim and being a good citizen of a Western democracy, simply plays into the arms of Daesh and other extremists who make exactly the same claim.

(Applause from certain quarters)

It plays into their arms because they make exactly the same claim when they are recruiting disillusioned and disconnected young Muslim men and women as terrorists. But whatever we in this Chamber may think, the fact is that Americans voted for a candidate who said what he thought, and now they find that they have a President who does what he promised to do. We must accept that this President, his priorities and these policies are the consequence of a growing tide of discontent to be found not only in middle America, but also in many of our countries. Electorates have lost faith in mainstream politicians on both sides of the Atlantic; electorates that have lost trust in politicians’ ability to listen and act upon their legitimate concerns; electorates attracted by simplistic solutions offered by politicians on the edges of the political spectrum.

While we express our concerns over President Trump’s executive orders, we must also realise that as long as the gains from globalisation are seen only in the portfolios of company directors and not in the pay packets of workers, as long as our migration and asylum policies are seen as more about compassion, diversity and political correctness, and less about ensuring integration, we will find politicians pursuing similar policies and making electoral gains in France, the Netherlands and elsewhere in the EU. So every time a mainstream politician dismisses those who disagree with the current direction of political travel in Europe and America, every time you dismiss them as racist or populist, this simply demonstrates an inability to offer a credible alternative.

In the meantime, no matter how strongly we feel about the current policies of the US President, let us all ask ourselves: what is more effective? The hot heads of protest or the cool heads of diplomacy? And let us make it clear to our American allies that decisions of the new US Administration in these executive orders, which lacked the support of Congress, which are arbitrary, which have been purely planned without preparation for the consequences, will not make America great again. Moreover, they will not strengthen, but only weaken, our transatlantic relationship. Let us also remember that friends are more likely to pay attention to friendly voices of reason, not raised voices of anger.

 
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