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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump crosses the line again, but where is Theresa May?

It was almost as if he was waiting for Theresa May to leave US airspace. Donald Trump's executive order to effectively ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days, was signed not long after his meeting with the British Prime Minister.

But he need not have worried (not that he cared) for when questioned in detail about the ban, Theresa May refused to condemn and it took concerted pressure for a late night statement to emerge from 10 Downing Street grudgingly stating that the Prime Minister does "not agree" with Donald Trump's refugee ban and will appeal to the US if it affects British citizens.

No statement of principle, no acknowledgement of the injustice being visited on innocent people who are being separated from their families, not even a hint of compassion for the plight of refugees fleeing from oppression, poverty, injustice and murder. Instead we had a neutral, self-interested inward-looking comment focusing on the impact on British citizens.

Compare her response to that of the Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, who responded on Twitter: "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada," That is real leadership. Theresa May should take note.

Trump's executive order was the act of a paranoid President lashing out at every conceivable target with little regard or understanding for its consequences. Or was it? For as the New York Daily News reports, some Muslim countries were spared from the order's blacklist, even though they have deep-seated ties to terrorism.

They say that the records show Trump does not hold business interests in any of the countries on the list, but he does holds major stakes in several of those excluded from it even though those countries he has spared a ban have deep-seated ties to terrorism.

They further note that despite Friday’s executive order suspending the issuing of U.S. visas or travel permits to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the conservative-leaning Cato Institute says that not a single American was killed on U.S. soil by citizens from any of those countries between 1975 and 2015:

However, the same set of statistics show that nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in the same time period — with the bulk of those killed being victims of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, people from those three countries are still welcome to apply for U.S. visas and travel permits.

In a striking parallel, Trump’s sprawling business empire — which he has refused to rescind ownership of — holds multi-million dollar licensing and development deals in all of those countries, raising potential conflict of interest concerns and alarming questions over what actually went into the decision process behind Friday’s executive order.

Not much is known about Trump’s connection to the Saudis. Yet, the little bit of information that is available raises a number of questions.

Trump registered eight companies tied to hotel interests in the country shortly after launching his campaign in August 2015, according to The Washington Post. The companies were registered under such names as THC Jeddah Hotel and DT Jeddah Technical Services; company names The Post reported bore striking resemblance to ones Trump has registered in other foreign countries.

And it goes on, click on the link for further details. Perhaps Theresa May needs to study the track record of her new best friend more closely. Maybe she also needs to wake up and understand that a trade deal with the US will be costly to the UK both in our having to lower food standards but also in its impact on national institutions like the NHS.

If she can persuade Trump to sign on the dotted line it is likely to lead to 2% increase in trade with the US. Compare that to the 30% loss of trade when we sever links with the single market. Is May putting British interests first? it does not look like it from where I am sitting.
The Tories are in a mess. The flip-flop PM refuses to condemn Trump's immigration policy, his policy on torture, and at the same time Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi has said the executive order from President Trump makes him feel discriminated against for the first time since he was a child.

Nadhim, I remember well supported Brexit - he called for border control and immigration control. This is what he wrote last September in the Huffington Post.

'I would imagine that a centrist Conservative government would go to the country with a sensible plan to control immigration, treat EU citizens no differently to those from India, Nigeria or Jamaica, and ensure that our economy could access the specialist skills it requires. But ultimately it would be up to the electorate to decide, and then hold us to account.'

It was the US electorate that gave Trump his mandate. It was the US electorate that nudged Trump to bring in this ban on Muslims.

Nadhim. Are you still as enthusiastic about Brexit as you were last year, now that the realities of this new world order are beginning to dawn upon us ?

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