It is of course possible that other MPs will have made claims in the last few days that are just as ridiculous or maybe even worse than these three men. Clearly anyone who has spotted other examples is most welcome to add them to the comments section below. Inevitably many other people outside of Parliament will also have done so, but when MPs speak in Parliament or write in public, their comments deserve to be responded to in my view. The first person who spoke in the House of Commons that I spotted is a Minister and so raising his words are even more important assuming that the Government should be held to account. Chris Philp was responding to a question on Monday by an MP called John Hayes whose question was aimed at Priti Patel but she asked Philp to respond. Hayes asked “If her Department will introduce a cap on the number of immigrants permitted to enter the UK each year” and the response from Philp was:
I thank my right hon. Friend for that question. He has long experience of matters such as this in the Home Office and elsewhere. On 1 January, for the first time in decades, the United Kingdom will have full democratic control over our immigration system, giving us power to determine who comes here and for how long…..
The problem with this nonsense is that it feeds into one of the arguments used to explain why we are planning to leave the EU by the 1st January 2021 at which point we will have left and the lack of changes to our border will then begin to emerge. Our Government has always had full control over our immigration systems and will continue to do so. That said some of the trade deals we are planning to sign up to will demand similar deals to those we have had with the EU which allowed people to travel from the UK into the EU and vice versa. Nations like the USA, Australia and China are all demanding some levels of border openness if we are going to have deals with them. The reality is that ever since the EU called for open borders that every nation has had the power to make a number of adjustments and yet the UK Government never bothered to do so. Equally to suggest there will be full democratic controls to determine who comes here and for how long implies that every person who arrives will need to be checked by Parliament. Yet one of our rules that will probably never change is that if people arrive with enough money they will never be checked for their skills or whether they have jobs and they can stay as longs as they like!
Then on Wednesday there was a debate on the subject of Exiting the European Union (Civil Aviation) and this is clearly a very important subject. However when Andrew Griffith started to speak he made a statement which seems to demonstrate how easy it is for words to get used in a way that could be misleading.
I am pleased to support the Government on the Bill. As we leave the European Union and become a sovereign state once again, we should feel capable of regulating our own affairs, and to set our own level of insurance requirements in aviation.
Clearly when we arrange transport deals with other nations where we want to go to, we will never have isolated decision making, just as the people arriving in our nation need to match our own rules and conditions. To imply we can set rules that don’t need to satisfy other nations is clearly nonsense as those rules relate to travelling from or to other nations. However the much more disturbing element is that England was a sovereign state or a sovereign nation from 927 until 1707 when the United Kingdom was established with Scotland. Whenever we do deals with other nations we don’t lose our sovereignty but rather our democratic government agrees to the deals and also has the opportunity to turn away in the future, just as Scotland and England could reverse their agreement.
The final piece is only a written statement which Ben Bradley made that I saw on Facebook so it is much less significant than speeches in Parliament. However he was referring to the decision to bring down statues and his statement began with:
There’s an ongoing debate online and in the media right now about our history and heritage, and about whether we should remove statues of historic figures based on a 21st century judgement of their actions. Obviously the Colston statue was torn down in Bristol this weekend, whilst today protesters have gathered in Oxford demanding that Cecil Rhodes be removed from Oxford University, and maps of other similarly ‘offensive’ statues are appearing with calls for their removal including former Monarchs and Prime Ministers. My view on this is pretty clear and straightforward. We shouldn’t be ripping down our history! End of story. Not everything involved in our history is comfortable, and not everything is good, to say the least. It’s still our history though and we can’t change it. You can’t define people from the past as simply ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – characters are complex and context is important. Besides which, who gets to decide? There’s no such thing as impartiality on this.
It is clear to most of us that ripping down a statue because of our revised view of our historical past is not ripping down our history. Indeed the very opposite is true. The same would be true if we decide to get a new statue of someone who we decide is worth being promoted. We should be constantly willing to review our past heroes and people whose behaviour becomes much more important as our nation improves its traditions. There are many people who deserve our appreciation who have never been set up as statues in the past. Let us always be willing to reconsider people and their actions that our nation will focus on as our views change. No statues have to last forever, and anyone could be considered as a statue for the future.