Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 29 October 2015


The mass migration of people from North Africa and the Middle East is fast becoming the greatest challenge to European nations in our lifetime. It asks many difficult questions to which there seem so few answers. Let me rehearse just three of them.

If the main cause of the migration is the civil war in Syria and the barbarism of ISIS in Iraq, why can't we simply stop the civil war? The only way to stop the war is to intervene militarily and there is no appetite in the West for more military intervention. Our recent record in Iraq does not encourage policy makers to put boots on the ground here.

Some look to the United Nations for intervention, but that would require a vote of the Security Council which two members would never support, namely Russia and China. Russia because it supports the existing Assad regime and China because it does not support international intervention in sovereign states (for obvious reasons.)

Any major diplomatic offensive to stop the killing suffers from the same fatal flaws: there are major powers lined up behind different sides in the conflict and the presence of ISIS confuses everything.

So the war will rumble on and ISIS will keep on butchering.

If we cannot stop the war, what are we going to do about all the refugees? There are no easy answers. Those coming to Europe are a tiny percentage of displaced people, millions remain in refugee camps all around the region. The UK is spending a billion pounds a year supporting them. In the name of humanity we must continue to do so.

It is estimated that of those reaching Europe only about 20% are from Syria. Others are economic migrants. So far it has proved beyond the capacity of European Nations to put in place better systems, to sift and to save.
Which takes us to another question: the impact of all this on the future of the EU. This crisis has once again demonstrated the EU's inability to act collectively and decisively in the face of major challenges. It has also stoked up once more strong nationalistic feelings in many member states. It has placed under the spotlight the viability of countries without border controls.

I attended an MOD briefing fifteen years ago looking at future threats. It predicted not climate change or war as being the primary threat to Western Europe but mass migration. How right they were.

posted by Gary @ 13:25