Charles Lawley (High Peak)

Charles Lawley (High Peak)

Twitter: @CharlesLawley. Visit his website here.

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

I am for recognition of Palestine, I believe it's in the interest of both the Israelis and the Palestinians for there to be recognition. Palestinians will have more rights as recognised by international law and Israelis would be able to secure support from the international community and make sure Palestinians abide by international law. Having visited the region, I don't see how the status quo is in either party's interests. Steps need to be taken to make sure both communities can co-exist and not attempt to replace each other. 

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?

I believe that the UK should take a position against illegal Israeli settlements because, as implied, they are illegal. It's not settlements themselves that are an obstacle to peace, but what they represent - the two communities not cooperating, not talking, not listening to each other and instead of having a conflict fought with weapons, having a conflict around the building of homes. Conversations need to take place asking do these settlements restrict the ability of Palestinians to live their everyday lives? And why do these settlements being built make some Israelis feel safer? Only by the communities understand each other better, can a sustainable state of peace and co-existence be achieved.

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?

I do not think the UK's response to the refugee crisis has been satisfactory. First and foremost, more needs to be done to help support Lebanon, Turkey & Jordan - the countries that border Syria. Virtually a quarter of the population of Lebanon - a country similar in size to Wales - is a refugee, Turkey has taken in more refugees than all of Europe combined and 25% of Jordan's national budget is spent on supporting refugees. I believe that refusing to take more unaccompanied children and the decision to scrutinise their validity, is not in keeping with the British values of compassion and hospitality. I commute to Stockport every day and, on Stockport train station, there is a plaque celebrating the town's response to when British men, women and children on the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands became refugees and they were taken in. This is the British spirit to suffering and desperation that I want us to, once-again, adopt. 

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


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?

My fear is that a "hard Brexit" will leave the UK without trade partners and we would be pretty desperate to get trade deals with anyone who is willing to buy UK products. This will leave us with a lot less clout on the international scene, be a lot less principled in who we choose to deal with, and it would mean we would be in a weaker position to play a significant role in the Middle East, due to a severe lack of influence. 

6) Do you support Britain's continued military involvement against ISIS in Syria and Iraq?

I do. Military action isn't a decision that should be taken lightly, but the horrors of ISIS controlled areas do not need to be re-explained. As we have seen in both Iraq & Syria, they are losing ground rapidly. We can't be complacent in thinking that military action alone can defeat ISIS. The fight against them isn't just a fight against an army but a fight against an ideology. More needs to be done, via community-led initiatives, to combat the beliefs of ISIS spreading. Anti-immigration stances taken to combat ISIS are useless. Since the end of The Troubles, all UK terrorist acts have been committed by people born here - you cannot close the border to the spreading of ideas.

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

There is considerable evidence that British-supplied weapons are being used in Yemen to specifically target civilians and to destroy Yemeni cities. This is a breach of international humanitarian law, and I am calling for the suspension of new arms contracts with Saudi Arabia pending independent verification of this evidence.