Darren highlights issues of climate change and arms technology in relation to Britain’s place in the world

Today there was a debate in the House of Commons about ‘Global Britain’. Darren used the opportunity to talk about the risks of climate change and arms technology to Britain and the international order.

Darren shares his views on the ongoing crisis in Western Sahara

The Moroccan monarchy has occupied Western Sahara since the 1970s. Many original inhabitants of this area and their descendants have long been seeking self-determination.

There is widespread concern that Morocco is committing human rights abuses here, and economically exploiting the region. Furthermore, there has not been a referendum on the self-determination of the region during Moroccan rule.

Darren said this about the situation:

It is apparent that human rights violations are taking place regularly in the Western Sahara region, with – for example – many in Western Sahara serving long prison terms after unfair trials for politically motivated offences. I therefore believe urgent and large-scale action against this would be in order, including via the UN. Furthermore, it is clear to me that trade deals are not being made with regard to fair distribution of the Western Sahara’s resources, in particular the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement. This should end, with foreign countries refusing to enter these trade deals.

Finally, each group of people has the right to self-determination, including those in Western Sahara. That said, Moroccan settlers now constitute a majority in the Western Sahara . With the difficulties this presents, I encourage peaceful dialogue between all sides, in order to determine any independence referendum’s terms. If a resolution is not possible here, then autonomous region status within Morocco is an alternative which is worth exploring.

Darren on the current Syria situation

Darren said:

Thank you to those of you that have been in touch with me about Syria. I want Parliament to have a say, but I haven’t been told by the Government yet whether this will happen.

My current view is that it needs to be made clear that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. Therefore, something must be done about what has happened in Douma.

However, I haven’t yet been provided with the evidence, the options or the view on consequences of those options for taking military action in Syria.

Airstrikes don’t seem to solve the issue, and taking any further action to defeat Assad still leaves us with the potential of an unacceptable leadership in Syria from the Assad opposition. This is a complicated situation that requires careful consideration and a calm approach.

If I do get the chance to vote, I will listen to the Government, the evidence and the debate in the House. Until then I’m keeping an open mind about how I vote (not least because I haven’t yet been told what I’d be voting for!).

I hope that helps, and I promise to keep you all posted.

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Darren shares his views on UK aid budget

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his thoughts on maintaining 0.7% of UK gross national income(GNI) for the overseas aid budget.

Darren said:

“ During the 2010-15 Parliament, the UK became the first G7 country to enshrine in law a target to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid and did so with cross-party support. The development and improvements in hundreds of millions of people’s lives that have resulted from this commitment have been a credit to humanity. For example, from 2010-15, British aid supported 11 million children through school and helped more than 60 million people to access clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene conditions. UK support during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, meanwhile, halted the spread of the disease. Such achievements should be a source of pride for everyone in the UK. I therefore remain profoundly committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid. 

I share people’s concerns at recent questioning of the UK’s foreign aid budget. It is worrying that, while the Government has committed to maintaining the 0.7% target, its plans also suggest a shift away from the current cross-party consensus on international development. For example, the Government has stated its intention to attempt to change international definitions of development assistance. It has further stated that if it fails to do this, it will change the law to allow it to use its own definition of development assistance. I am concerned that this is an attempt to use overseas aid intended for poverty reduction for things such as security and counter-terrorism, and to plug funding gaps in other departments. 

It is vital that we continue to abide by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development definition of aid and use our overseas assistance to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. Abandoning this global standard would undermine the purpose of the 0.7% commitment and send the wrong message to the rest of the world. I will continue to defend the UK’s aid target and press for the correct use of the international aid budget”.


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Darren shares his views on Family Reunification for refugees

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his thoughts on family reunification for refugees ahead of a debate on 16th March 2018.

Darren said:

“ A number of constituents have shared concerns about family reunion rules, the effectiveness of their implementation-  a number of organisations have also called for there to be an expansion of the criteria.  

I agree that more needs to be done to reunite families and I share concerns about the efficiency of the processes in place for those who are entitled to join family in the UK, particularly children. As we know, unaccompanied migrant children are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse.  

At the last General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised to produce a cross-departmental strategy to meet our international obligations on the refugee crisis, and I hope this is something that the Government will consider. I believe we need effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis and continue to uphold the proud British tradition of honouring the spirit of international law and our moral obligations by taking our fair share of refugees.  

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the debate on the 16th March 2018 due to prior diary commitments. However I did attend the opposition motion on refugees on the 24th January  2018. I also recently attended a fund-raising Ceilidh organised by Westbury Welcome to help refugee families arriving in Bristol North West. 

I will follow the Government’s response to the refugee crisis closely, and will continue to bear in mind the points my constituents raise when this issue is debated in the House of Commons in the future”.


Darren shares his views on rising violence in Kashmir

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has shared his thoughts on violence in Kashmir.

Darren said:

“ A number of constituents have shared concerns about escalating violence in Kashmir.  The situation in Kashmir alongside the recent upsurge in violent clashes is deeply concerning, and all sides must engage in dialogue and seek to break the cycle of violence. Indeed, we have seen the worst spate of violence in the region since 2010. I condemn the use of pellet guns in Kashmir and believe these, and tear gas and live ammunition, should be banned in civilian areas. It is also important that people who are suspected of committing offences are properly charged and given fair trials. 

I do not believe it is for the UK to prescribe a solution to the issue of Kashmir – it is for those parties directly involved to determine through peaceful dialogue and co-operation. 

I acknowledge the importance of the work of international organisations, such as the UN, and their efforts to negotiate with all parties and member states involved to bring India and Pakistan to the negotiating table. India and Pakistan must continue to be encouraged to seek a lasting solution on Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council resolutions. 

I hope the UK Government will continue to encourage and support both India and Pakistan to find a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir, in line with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Their wishes are fundamental to the success of the process and to obtaining peace in the region”.