Why is Keir Starmer playing the Orange card?

by Kevin Meagher

You might have missed it because it didn’t really register in the British media (quelle surprise), but Keir Starmer’s trip to Belfast last month caused something of a stir.

While Starmer used the trip to meet victims of the Troubles and to voice his support for the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol – chiding Boris Johnson for not being ‘straight’ with voters in the process – he also dismissed any prospect of Irish unity and indicated that he strongly backs Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom.

In a tough interview with the BBC’s new Northern Ireland political editor, Enda McLafferty, the Labour leader was quizzed about how support for holding a border poll – the colloquial term for a referendum in Irish unification – might be measured, perhaps by the performance of pro or anti unity parties in an assembly election?

Starmer replied: ‘I don’t think that’s a particularly accurate way of measuring it.’

Really? Surely, it’s the most accurate way of accessing whether there is support for a change in Northern Ireland’s constitutional position? Each of the party’s views on the matter are well-established, so it offers a pretty good measure of the state of the debate. Notwithstanding the fact we have an assembly election next May.

McLafferty pressed Starmer for further clarification. ‘I think there have to be conditions,’ before any vote could be held, he said. ‘I think there have to be lots of discussions. Look, I don’t think [a border poll] is in sight and this is a very hypothetical discussion.’

Asked whether he would campaign with unionists in the event of a vote, Starmer replied: ‘I personally, as leader of the Labour Party, believe in the United Kingdom, strongly, and want to make the case for the United Kingdom, strongly, and will be doing that.’

While Northern Ireland is a far-away place of which we know and – all too often – care little, there are a couple of things that are significant here.

The first is the jarring tone of Starmer’s response to the very possibility of a poll. For most of the past fifty years, Labour has, broadly speaking, been supportive of constitutional Irish nationalism and there has been grumbling behind the scenes from party activists and some MPs who are particularly close to this issue about his remarks.

Not too long ago, the party’s position was one of ‘unity by consent,’ reflecting the affinity many working-class Brits had with the miserable lot that Northern Ireland’s Catholic-Nationalists received under Unionist majority rule, as well as the massive support the party traditionally received from Irish-Catholic émigré voters in Britain.

This position was tweaked during and after the Good Friday Agreement, reflecting the need for the governing party to be even-handed in the subsequent management of the process. This, then, is the second reason Starmer’s intervention has raised eyebrows.

The promise of a border poll is baked into the agreement. It is not some ephemeral demand from campaigners; it is central to the whole deal, with Sinn Fein’s MP for Belfast North, John Finucane, warning Starmer about becoming a ‘barrier’ to Irish unification. Moreover, it is now a real prospect, accelerated by Brexit, but evidenced by most recent opinion polls and election results. Dismissively kicking the issue down the road is hardly equal to the moment.

Starmer knows Northern Ireland well enough and advised the policing board before becoming an MP, while his new communications director Matthew Doyle, a hugely experienced hand from the Blair years, is a former chairman of the Labour Party Irish Society.

The need to convey a neutral message in that interview would have been well understood. So why didn’t he? One of two reasons, I would suggest.

The first – the cock-up theory – is that he was merely over-compensating. One of the Labour leader’s preoccupations is addressing the ‘patriotism deficit’ that opened-up under his predecessor and he simply misspoke, dialling up his language, inadvertently, to avoid any impression that Labour is sanguine about the break-up of the UK.

McLafferty was sharp and persistent. British politicians are often thrown by Northern Irish journalists, who know their subject inside-out, and it is easy to offer up a clunky phrase under cross-examination.

The second theory is the exact opposite; Starmer’s circumlocution was deliberate. He intends to position himself as a John Bull unionist, presumably so he can play footsie with the DUP. They have eight seats in Westminster, and these might prove essential in a hung parliament.

Every Labour leader in recent years has gamed a scenario where they lure them into an ‘everyone-against-the-Tories’ coalition. Even Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – muscular supporters of Irish unity – were not immune to this approach.

But this is only part of the calculation. I think the real explanation for Starmer’s new-found Unionism (despite once being a leading light of the pro-united Ireland Haldane Society of lefty lawyers) is actually found on the other side of the Irish Sea.

Labour needs to win a clutch of Scottish seats at the next election – potentially now just 20 months or so away – to stand any chance of forming a government. The problem is that those same Irish-Catholic voters – 80% of whom Labour used to rely on as the bedrock of its Scottish support – have lifted and shifted to the SNP in record numbers in recent years, and there is precious little evidence of them coming back (something that clearly concerned Labour strategists at the last election).

So Starmer needs to fashion a new coalition, taking unionist-minded voters from the Scottish Tories, and seems to think that waving the orange card will help this task. Although there are six Conservative-held seats in Scotland – down from thirteen in 2017 – their biggest majority is just 5,148. (Squeezing the Tory vote would also help in an additional seven seats where Labour is in second place to the SNP. All of them could all be taken on a swing of just 1.4%).

It perhaps explains the near silence from Scottish Labour figures to the outpouring of sectarian hate from fans of Glasgow Rangers after the club won the Scottish Premiership back in May, while SNP figures queued up to condemn the anti-Catholic bilefest that ensued.

So, a brutal piece of realpolitik, but its high-risk too. In recent years, Labour has managed to lose a once-unassailable lead among Catholic voters across Britain, 60% of whom voted for the party as recently as 2005. By 2019, they were no more likely to back the party than any other group.

By donning the sash and bowler hat in the hope of getting the DUP onside and bagging a dozen Scottish seats, the risk is that Labour’s support from Catholics erodes further in lots of other seats.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut

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30 Responses to “Why is Keir Starmer playing the Orange card?”

  1. Anne says:

    Thank you Kevin for your insightful article, and I do know you are passionate about Irish unification, but I believe you are overthinking Starmer’s reasoning for saying what he did. It is probably much more simpler in that he wants NI to remain part of the UK. The DUP are unlikely to ever vote for Labour, and I am not sure his thinking is related to Scotland, although it is true that many Labour voters in Scotland have moved to the SNP, but their reasons relate more to Nicola Sturgeon and their dislike of Johnson’s government than to religion.
    Starmer is still, I believe, forming his opinions about certain subjects, and he did not say what you wanted him too, on this occasion. The Irish situation has still got a long way to run, unfortunately this will not be straight forward and there will be major bumps but hold the faith Kevin unification is in sight – although distant, at the moment.

  2. Paul says:

    Labour is being hung by its own hypocrisy and need for votes.

    Why should it be allowed to profess ‘neutrality’ when it clearly isn’t neutral.
    Simply using the lazy phrase ‘donning the bowler hat and sash’ shows how simplistic all of this is.

    It is inconsistent that it stands candidates in Scotland but not in Northern Ireland? Why is Northern Ireland Nationalism fine, but Scottish Nationalism not?

    Labour has no difficulty with MPs and leaders who stand shoulder to shoulder with the supporters of an organisation that killed hundreds and maimed thousands.

    That nasty side of their character was acceptable.

    That didn’t matter a jot, because frankly who cares.

    It is time Labour treated the people of Northern Ireland with respect.

  3. Spot on Kevin. Sharing a Unionist platform pretty well destroyed Labour in Scotland after the independence referendum. The Catholic working class voters used to be in the bag for Labour while the Scottish nationalist were always chummy with the protestant vote. How things change.

  4. Tafia says:

    The British Government’s position has always been they can go when the majority wish to go and that is the correct position and the position Starmer appears to be supporting.

    In the last general election, the ‘split’ was:-

    DUP 30.6%
    UUP 11.7%
    APNI* 16.8%

    SF 22.8%
    SDLP 14.9%

    Other Parties, Some pro-Some anti 3.2%

    In the last Stormont election in 2017

    DUP 28.1%
    UUP 12.9%
    APNI* 9.1%
    TUV 2.6%
    Con 0.3%

    SF 27.9%
    SDLP 11.9%
    Green 2.3%
    PBP 1.8% (PBP is the SWP)

    Other Parties, Some pro-Some anti 3.3%

    It also a FACT that not all SF/SDLP voters support re-unification – many of them rely on UK public sector jobs that don’t exist in the Republic. Should re-unification ever happen, a lot of NHS workers etc will lose their jobs. In addition, life will get more expensive for the people of Ulster. The Republic does not have an NHS (it used to have one of sorts donkeys ago but voted to get rid of it) – it has compulsory mutual Helath Insurance and they have to pay €50 for a GP appointment and €40 for A&E treatment and their prescription charges are horrendous (they have to pay that – it’s not covered by the insurers). In addition, their unemployment benefits system is more generous than ours (but life is more expensive) but they are far far stricter in what ‘actively looking for work’ means.

    In addition, far more aspects of life in the Republic are run by the private sector and as a result many council workers etc would be faced with being priovatised alomng with redundancies.

    Then there is the Republic itself. Northern Ireland cannot vote itself into the Republic – that is for the Republic to decide and they are bnot particularly over-enthusiastic about it. A quarter of the population of Ireland is in the North. The Republic’s political system is highly fractured with many many parties. They are fearful that a sudden influx of a Unionist bloc vote combined would in effect be one of the largest parties on the island and make them ‘king makers’ in the never ending coalitions they have to cobble together. In addition the Republic has a far far more liberallised economy than the North, with %-wise far fewer public sector workers in the workforce. Workers also have fewer rights, are easier to sack etc etc.

    I’ve always thought it would be hilarious if the North voted out of the UK, but the Republic voted against letting them join them – and that is a very real possibility. What would happen then?

    (APNI* APNI position is it will support the position of which is the larger –
    unionist or republican. Currently that’s unionist, so they in turn are mildly unionist.)

  5. Tafia says:

    Now we have passed the 14 day point after July 19 we can review if Freedom Day has been the disaster that so many media-amplified experts warned us about. Predicting the future is a sport best reserved for the bookies, though the Covid data continues to disprove yet more prophesies of doom and gloom from these so-called experts. Two weeks ago, 1,200 “international experts” came out with the prediction that Boris’s plan to end lockdown in July was a “threat to the world”. And the left still think Gove must regret his anti-experts moment during the referendum…

    Among those ringing the alarm bell included government advisors in New Zealand, Israel and Italy, along with 1,200 signatories to a letter in The Lancet. The piece – pompously entitled “The Declaration” – claimed that Freedom Day was “dangerous and premature”, and cited the 100,000 cases a day figure.

    “We believe the government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment, and we call on it to pause plans to abandon mitigations on July 19, 2021.”

    They must have been really sure to make such a bombastic statement…

    And who was behind this letter? None other than Carole Cadwalladr. A week after it was published she took to Substack to boast about the effort:

    “For weeks, they were seen as fringe voices. At the Citizens we have done everything we can to amplify them. This week, we finally succeeded. It’s just far, far too late.”

    Carole’s ‘The Citizens group’ then went on to host an “emergency summit”, broadcast three days before freedom day. Again she was delighted at the raft of international ‘experts’ (pmsl) lining up to slam the government’s strategy. She described the epidemiological circle-jerk as “an intervention: Britain is the reckless addict endangering not only its own health but that of the world”

    “This summit was the equivalent of friends and family coming together to tell us that we can’t run away from this virus. That our denial is only making it worse. That this is “murderous”, “diabolical”, “reckless”.”

    As she accurately observed, the press – i, Guardian, Independent and FT – lapped it up…

    Yesterday’s Covid stats saw yet another fall, now down to below 22,000 – a 12% drop on last Monday.

    (Cadwalladr herself lost her job as a Guardian/Observer journalist and has racked up millions of pounds of debt in failed Court actions against Leaver Aaron Banks over her ‘Russia Conspiracy’ claims, which even she now admits were not true. Debts which Banks is now taking action to enforce forcing her to sell her home and bankrupt her.)


    While we are on lockdown matters, has anyone notoced Starmer’s abrubt U turn over the easing of lockdown? He has shifted from a position of too far, too fast, too soon, to a position of ‘speed it up’ in a matter of days. Is it by any chance because keeping lockdown going would have restricted his Party conference to between 30 & 50 delegates? Surely not that cynical and opportunist.

  6. John p Reid says:

    I’m not sure if any Catholic in Britain,
    if they’ve relations initially from both Ireland North of south care about the DUP
    many Pakistani/ Italian French catholic’s in Britain
    By the way you assume there’s no catholic’s in Northern Ireland who vote DUP
    didn’t Andy burnham support Thr DUP when they voted for 42 day terror detention
    It’s also a thing for catholic’s in the Labour Party to have sympathy with The DUP of not letting the British Parliament overrule Stormont in Abortion of gay marriage
    Also yes the fact most Catholic’s who vote labour were working class socially conservative types who were fed up with middle class guardian liberals from London be they Blairites or Corbynites

  7. steve says:

    Like Kevin, BBC commentators on Radio 5 gave Starmer the benefit of the doubt by explaining how the absence effective parliamentary opposition is intentional – a tactic that would give the Tories enough rope to hang themselves, they said.

    And now Starmer’s foot in his mouth response over the Irish border is supposed to be an ingenious election winning tactic.

    The bury-your-head-in-the-sand desperation of Labour Party members is understandable. But you will have to face up to it sooner or later: you’ve elected a politically naive incompetent as your leader.

  8. A.J. says:

    So Starmer is a Unionist. Goodness gracious, what a wicked chap he must be, just like my Rangers-supporting brother-in-law. I just hope that bowler hat isn’t too tight a fit and the sash is a fetching shade of orange.

  9. Timmy says:

    I suspect that the consent clause and the likelihood of a no vote on the Protocol could be behind the approach

  10. Davy Green says:

    Mr Meagher has gone full “Alice in Wonderland ” here
    Starmer was repeating a line which reflects his thinking of the union of the United Kingdom.What is wrong in the leader of a political party in the UK wishing to keep the union of the UK?
    How is Starmer a barrier to Irish Unity-he will not have a vote in any referendum-neither will Mr Meagher as he resides in Sheffield with no threat of his medical supplies being withdrawn by the Protocol as residents of Northern Ireland are now facing
    If Mr Meagher cared anything for his fellow citizens in Northern Ireland then he should concern himself with threats to food and medical supplies to Northern Ireland
    What type of organisation threatens to withhold medicines and block food transportation between 2 parts of a sovereign country?

  11. Paul Kelly says:

    Maybe I made a mistake, but I posted a comment a few days ago.

    Admittedly it wasn’t one that would have suited Kevin

  12. Tafia says:

    Most of the province of Kanadhar is now under Taleban rule, with the province capital – Kandahar city, under siege and popartially overrun. In just one town within the province, the Taleban executed 900 people for being government employees, police, doctors, health workers, soldiers who had surrendered, religious moderates, politicians etc etc. All girls schools are destroyed and their teachers among the executed.

    Helmand, where most of the UK military activity took place, most of the province is now in Taleban control with the principle city – Lashkar Gah, now overrun for the most part.

    Most of the country is now fully under Taleban control, or the Taleban are actively in the process of overrunning it. President Ashraf Ghani has abandoned the rural areas to concentrate on trying to hold the cities in the belief that somehow the Taleban will offer a truce which leaves him as President. The Taleban for their part want to capture President Ghani alive so they can hang him in public and have no interest in a truce, instead destroying all traces of Ghani’s government – including records, and killing all administrators everywhere they are in control so that there is no ‘going back’.

    In areas they now control, adult women are forbidden from leaving the house unless fully covered and with a permit authorising them to be outside. Females over -12 are now forbidden from all schooling.

    Biden pulling the plug is going to prove very very costly, very very short-sghted, lead to an increase in global islamist terrorism and at some stage we are going to have to go back in militarily and this time not a half-hearted affair undermined by middle class liberals bleating about it.

  13. A.J. says:

    Turns out Starmer is a born-again Blairite (as suggested and predicted by some well in advance, I rather think; though perhaps difficult for some to swallow – he used to look pally enough with Corbyn, did he not?) So: pro-EU and very much so. How can it be otherwise (unless the Blairites have recanted)? As for Blair himself, he may be an odd shade of orange, but where have his instincts always lain? On the liberal (i.e. trendy) side of political life: smoke, mirrors and showboating. On that basis, if Starmer is serious, the DUP can take the kettle off the stove and Sinn Fein begin asking him what kind of biscuits he prefers.

  14. A.J. says:

    BBC News: Labour should be proud of Tony Blair’s record. Why? Did not Blair lead eventually to Corbyn? And was anyone surprised? Socialists always fight like cats in a sack. It comes of wanting to be ideologically whiter than white, as the saintly George Lansbury found out in an earlier era of Labour politics: mauled by Bevin. Then there was that protracted period of warfare begun under Attlee – and which, in one form or another, still goes on. It’s caused an awful lot of damage along the way: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s – there was always something going on. And didn’t the working class vote begin to slowly peel away under Blair? Didn’t the metropolitan liberal elite, with their sun-dried tomatoes and fizzy wine, begin to get the upper hand from around 1993 onwards? Is it, in fact, just too late in the day to turn back the clock? Is Starmer simply clutching at Mandelson-made straws? Of course, one could argue that the liberal elite already had the upper hand by, say, 1966 and Harold Wilson’s second election…

  15. A.J. says:

    Don’t forget, too, that young, pretty Mr.Blair won against silly, unpopular Mr.Major. Starmer is up against sly, relatively popular Mr.Johnson and might soon be up against young, pretty Mr.Sunak, the saviour of the Covid nation. Had the so-called ‘Conservative Party’ hung onto Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism, Labour might not have had it so easy in 1997. As it was, Blair became ‘the greatest Tory ever sold’ (according to ‘The Economist’) and Mrs. Thatcher demonstrated once again that she lacked judgement by virtually endorsing Phoney Tony.

  16. A.J. says:

    Then, terrible though Johnson might be, Starmer and Andrew Burnham still look like a couple of council leaders hoping to move on to better things eventually (becoming a Labour backbencher say). For all his nastiness at least John McDonnell looks like he’s been around the block a few times. I assume he was behind Corbyn all the while, kicking his arse and putting his cap straight.

  17. A.J. says:

    Starmer: Labour has to step up to the plate. John Prescott always looked as if he was an expert in that department – tottering in the footsteps of Roy ‘Suckling Pig’ Hattersley. In fact, Starmer himself has a whiff of the porcine. Must be all that filled pasta.

  18. A.J. says:

    Seriously, what will excite sufficient numbers of people to give Labour any chance of winning a General Election? With all due respect to Mr.M, I do not think it will be anything to do with the break-up (or otherwise) of the United Kingdom. Perhaps another Wilson or Blair will put in an appearance. Perhaps they’ll simply conclude that it’s time to ‘give the other lot a chance’. Only activists tend to show enthusiasm.

  19. Tafia says:

    A provincial capital in south west Afghanistan has become the first in the country to fall to the Taliban’s nationwide offensive.

    The city of Zaranj in Nimroz province, south west Afghanistan. it sits close to the Iranian border, is the main crossing point between Iran & Afghnistan astride the main road leading to the vitally important Lashkar Gah in neighbouring Helmand.

    Locals report that the Afghan National Guard and the police abandoned their posts, leaving all their equipment, weaponry and uniforms and disappearing after the Taliban issued the defenders with an ultimatum that if they didn’t leave, they would be executed, executing some they had already captured to reinforce the threat.

  20. Tafia says:

    And a second provincial capital falls to the Taliban overnight. This one being the city of Sheberghan, in the Jawzjah Province in northern Afghanistan, close to the junction of the borders of Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan. The same as yesterday, the Afghan National Guard and police abandoned their posts along with all their weaponry and uniforms, and disappeared.

    Biden – now realising the stupidity of his decison to end involvement in Afghanistan and thus sink the Allied effort, has ordered mass aerial bombing by B-52 bombers rushed to an airbase in Qatar specifically for the task. Each B-52 carries 65 1,000lb bombs and they will be used for carpet bombing the approaches and outer suberbs to the three main Taliban target cities of Lashkar Gah, Herat and Kandahar. They will be supported by AC-130 flying gun platforms. They will be protected by US Navy F-18 Horents (of ‘Top Gun’ fame) operating off the carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

    As with the ‘liberation ‘ of Zaranj yesterday, the Taliban filmed themselves releasing hundreds of their fighters from prisons and re-arming them. Ordinatry prisoners were also released however some were -repunished along Sharia lines depending on their crimes, up to and including being executed.

  21. John P Reid says:

    Danny Speight
    The difference between Scottish independence and NI was the SNP said that all North Sea oil revenue should go to Scotland which in reality wouldn’t have
    Made them any richer

    Where if NI left the U.K. there’d be pressure for it to join a United ireland which no one really wants

    As for sharing a stage in 2015 Mary creagh said when standing for leader she’d share a stage in the eu Referendum with cameron

    So why not share a stage with Tories in the Scot referendum mark2

    Foot/ benn shared a stage with Tory leavers like Teddy Taylor in 1975

    Regarding Starmer saying admire Blair,blairites are nearly as bad as Corbynites they head what they want to hear interpret if you mean something totally different Blair’s quite the powers of conservatism where holding the country back was suppose to be a dig at those socially conservative types in the Labour Party( which I disagree with by the way) but blairites interpreted it as him saying he was against capitalist tory party members

    So blairites fi t get their snobbery of The working class is no different to Corbynites like zeny Thornberry diane abbot or Shami Chakrabarti

  22. Tafia says:

    I mentioned briefly about the forthcoming COP26 and China, India and a huge portion of the third world basically refusing to de-carbonise.

    Their argument, quite rightly, that your carbon emissions should be measured on a ‘per capita’ basis as opposed to just per country, as that discriminates against bigger countries – something they are absolutely 100% correct about. Their argument is that we need to globally decide what a safe per capita level is, and apply that and also ban any notion of ‘carbon trading’ – which hampers poorer countries development at the expense of richer countries lifestyles.

    Wel the carbon figures for the G7 + Russia, China, India have now been released in preparation for COP26. In order, dirtiest first:-

    Canada – 29.1% of global carbon emissions per Capita.
    India – cleanest of the group at around 2%

  23. Tafia says:

    My mistake, China accounts for 29.1%, but divided fairly per capita is only about 7.5%.

    Canada per capita is 18%, making it more than twice as dirty as China, three times as dirty as UK and nine times dirtier than India

  24. Tafia says:

    Earlier today, the Taliban overran and took total control of the Kang district, part of the Nimruz Province, whose capital – Zaranj, was overrun a couple of days ago.

    Military and local government prisoners had their eyes gouged out and were then summarily shot and dumped in mass graves.

  25. Tafia says:

    The Taliban has seized control of its sixth city in less than a week and there third provincial Capital. The city of Aibak – the capital of Samangan Province fell earlier this morning. It is located in the north of the country.. Already mass-executions have commenced along with the destruction of Bhuddist shrines etc. Again, as previously, Afghan forces abandoned their positions, leaving their uniforms and equipment.

    It has also been announced that the Taliban have surrounded and commenced besieging the larget city in northern Afghanistan and fourth largest in the country – Mazar-i-Sharif (provincial capital of Balkh province right up in the north of the country, astride the AH76 highway leading directly to Kabul, sealing Kabul off from the north after Kunduz fell the other day.)

    The Taliban’s current tactic appears to be beseiging cities and regional centres, causing an exodus of people towards Kabul (and thus a refugee crisis), while simultaneously severing all the highways linking Kabul to other major cities and the borders. They also appear to be targeting built-up areas to nullify the effectiveness of US mass airstrikes by causing the US to severely damage the suburbs should they bomb them.

    The whining liberals here in the west should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves – this is their fault.

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  27. John p Reid says:

    Labour’s trouble is at the most it can get 40% without taking Tory votes without upsetting current voters by appealing to the socially conservative working class

    and the minimum the Tories can get is 40 without taking Libdem or reform votes ( which it can do)

  28. Tafia says:

    Overnight Farah – the capital of the western district of Farah Province, fell to the Taliban. Again, government forces abandoned their posts alomg with all uniforms, weapons etc etc and disappeared. Logal officials report te Taliban entered alll government offices, executed some government people, ordered the rest to go home and set about destroying all records.

  29. Tafia says:

    The governments of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands have written to the EU and told them that they will continue to deport failed Afghan asylum seekers irrespective of the Taliban and irrespective of pleas by Kabul to suspend them.

  30. Tafia says:

    Michel Barnier ‘doubles-down’ on his proposed anti immigration policy should he become Frances next President.

    In a TV interview and press, he insisted European immigration policy “does not work” and time should be taken to review the rules. “I think we have to take the time for three or five years to suspend immigration.Overall, immigration policy does not work in Europe as it does not work in France. That’s why I’m making this 3-5 year moratorium proposal (including a ban on refugees and asylum seekers who enter the country before being authorised to do so) and illegal immigrants. I try to be honest and address issues that are extremely serious. Let’s take the time to reconsider procedures that are not working. Let’s see why we still have people who committed crimes.

    Barnier intends to stand as the candidate for the centre-right ‘Les Republicains’ party. Polling shows that in the second round run-off, it will be a neck & neck fight between him and Marine Le Pen, with all other candidates – including the current President Macron, being eleiminated in the first round.

    France is seeing a massive rise in opposition to ‘boat people’ etc entering the country. So far this year 10,500 have crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa, as well as thousands more coming in via Spain, and overland from the Middle East via Germany and the Balkans. France has been rocked in recent years by a series of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamist ‘sleeper’s’ and a large rise in violent murders and rapes carried out by people who had entered the country. There is also widescale public fury at the arrivals refusals to adopt France’s secularist policies and refusals to accept things such as gay rights and female equality.

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