I would like to begin by thanking all those involved in the organisation of Sunday’s Remembrance Service, and indeed those simply taking part, for (as ever) a beautifully moving tribute to all those who gave their lives so that we could know peace. It came at a time when we see troops massed at the Polish border, as Belarus seems to be trying to provoke a new war over immigration.
I thought carefully before using that word, as I am involved with RAMP, the Refugee, Asylum and Migration Policy project, where we are committed to trying to find cross party solutions to some of the big migration issues and to trying to dial down the rhetoric. What I think is very clear is the need to find upstream solutions, I keep trying to explain that the current crisis with small boat crossings will not be solved in the waters of the English Channel, but much more likely the effective interventions will be outside Europe.
Last week I was in Cyprus for three days, with a cross party group of MPs, where migration and the challenges that country is facing was very much on the agenda. The current estimate is that 5% of their population are illegal immigrants, who have come across to the northern occupied territories, and then found their way through a very porous buffer zone. Irregular migration flows are very clearly not a problem we face in isolation. I appreciate that All Party Parliamentary Groups, like the one for Cyprus, were very much in the news last week. I would like to reassure everyone that I receive no payment from the APPG, or any associated organisation, and the trip has been properly declared on the register (albeit not showing on their website as I write). But I do have a significant number of Greek Cypriot constituents who have always been very pleased by the interest I have shown in the significant issues their country has faced since the occupation in 1974.