Paul Harris (Walsall South)

Paul Harris (Walsall South)

Twitter: @paulharrissc. More information can be found here.

1) Do you agree that the UK should recognise Palestine? What would be your reasons for and against recognition?

I support British recognition of Palestine. I do so because I support a two-state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict as planned in the Oslo Accords. I believe that Palestinians have a right to self-determination. I consider that British recognition would be particularly appropriate now in view of moves towards formal annexation of Palestinian Territories by Israel in breach of international law.

2) Should the UK call for an end to all illegal Israeli settlement construction on Palestinian land, and stop trade with Israeli settlements? Do you consider settlements as an obstacle to peace, and what can the UK Government do about them?

Yes, yes and yes. The settlements are obviously a major obstacle to peace. However it is important to distinguish between boycotting the illegal settlements and boycotting Israel, which I consider wrong in principle, unjustifiable and counterproductive. The UK is in a weak position to exert influence in the Middle East as it is considered by many to be responsible for the whole Israeli- Palestinian tragedy. However it should continue to use whatever influence it has to object to the settlements.

3) Do you think that the UK's response to the refugee crisis has been satisfactory? What more should the UK be doing, in particular in countries where most refugees are being hosted?

The UK response has not been satisfactory. The  UK has given a significant amount of aid to help Syrian refugees in adjacent countries, including some good relief projects, but it has accepted very few Syrian refugees in the UK. The Liberal Democrats have pledged a substantial increase in acceptances in their manifesto and I fully support this policy. 

4) Should guarantees on human rights be a condition of new free trade agreements after the UK leaves the EU?

I support the idea of guarantees for human rights being included in new trade agreements although a post-Brexit Conservative government will probably care nothing about this and eagerly grovel to every murderous dictator in the world.

5) Will Brexit change Britain's foreign policy priorities in the Middle East? If so, how? What role can the UK play in the Middle East?

Brexit will dramatically weaken Britain’s international influence. Instead of being a major player in the EU which is a major player on the world stage we will be seen, correctly, as a minor satellite of the United States. For this reason, as well as that mentioned at 2. above, our influence will be small. However there will still be scope for Britain to adopt a more ethical foreign policy in all parts of the world including the Middle East, and this is something which I will always campaign for.

6) Do you think the UK could/should be doing more to uphold the rule of international law in the Middle East?

See my answers to 2. and 5. above.

7) Do you believe that Britain should take back children of British ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria?

Yes. I do not believe in banning British citizens from Britain. The children of fighters are victims of the situation they are in and should be assisted.

8) Do you think that the government should suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia over its involvement in the bombing campaign of Yemen?

Yes. The Saudi regime under Prince Mohammed is an obnoxious and repressive one with which we should not be allying ourselves.

9) What would you propose to address increasing levels of hate crime in Britain, including attacks on the Muslim community, Jewish community, and on refugees and migrants?

Tackling violent racism and hate crime requires sustained action at many levels. The massive cuts to the police under the Conservatives have to be reversed so that there are resources available to deal with violent crime generally. The internet has to be policed so that people cannot be trolled by anonymous hate-mongers. After printing became common in the 17th century it was made illegal to print a book or leaflet without the name and address of the publisher. I believe that because of the way the internet encourages both extremism and defamation through anonymity a similar law is needed for publication on-line. Politicians can also help by making a strong public stand in support of all communities which may be at risk of hate-crime. I do this as a councillor and will do so if I become an MP.