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Poorest will be most affected by Brexit, says Swinson

29th Nov 2019
Poorest will be most affected by Brexit,  says Swinson

Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi interviews Liberal Democrat Leader, Jo Swinson (Credit: The Muslim News)

Hamed Chapman

Liberal Democrat Leader, Jo Swinson, has no doubt that Brexit needs to be stopped, arguing that the main victims will be the poorest people in society, including Muslims.

Swinson also believes that the Government’s controversial Prevent Extremism programme that supposed to be aimed at stopping terrorists ought to be revoked and be completely replaced. “We need a proper independent review of Prevent strategy.”

“If it is not sufficiently independent, it will need to be looked up again,” she told Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi in an exclusive interview. “It needs to be scrapped and replaced with something entirely new,” she said.
“I certainly think we need a more independent person” than the former reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Carlile, who has again been selected to carry out a review of the discredited policy. “What is important is working hand in hand cooperatively with communities to tackle problems that exist.”
Regarding the party’s main policy on 2016 referendum to leave the European Union, the Liberal Democrat Leader said: “We should stop Brexit. I accept the people who will be most affected will be those who are poorest in our society. A disproportionate number of people are from the Muslim community. Those people will be the hardest hit.”
“We should not go ahead with the action that is bad for the jobs. Therefore, we should stop it. Liberal Democrats will invest in the National Health Service, on education,” she argued, going along with the main two parties that say they also want to rebuild the country and improve public services.

On combating Islamophobia

“In our party, equality is in our heart. We respect religion and freedom of belief, strong support for human rights, invest is schools and tackle climate emergency.”
On combating Islamophobia, Swinson said there are “two elements to the hate crimes.” Hate crimes, she said, should be made an aggravated offence. “We should have individuals to have a right to go about their business, be able to pray and demonstrate their faith the way they want.”

The second part, she specified, was the “cultural element.” How can Britain as a country be open and welcoming and recognising different faiths and different cultures. “Together makes our country stronger. We should be celebrating that.”
She cited the case of the last London Mayoral elections where she said there was a “despicable campaign run by the Conservatives.” Not being a Labour Party politician she said she could look at objectively and say it is completely wrong (the Islamophobia campaign targeted against Sadiq Khan).
“It should not have been acceptable. Conservative leaders should have put down and refused to engage in that type of demonization and insinuation and association of being Muslim with terrorism.”

Unlike the Government, the Liberal Democrats have accepted the definition of Islamophobia recommended by All-party parliamentary group (APPG) British Muslims. “There are very significant concerns about Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. This is an issue that needs to be addressed,” Swinson said.
With the equivalent of less than £2m being provided by the Government to protect Muslims, she said she “certainly recognised need for additional money and support for the safety and security of the mosques. They should get support from the local police officers. To implement this is incredibly important.”

The Jammu and Kashmir crises

Switching to foreign affairs, the Liberal Democrat Leader said that her party has “shown concern about the abuses in (India-controlled) Jammu and Kashmir. This is having a huge impact on freedom and their lives.” She added that “I certainly condemn violence taking place against people” of Kashmir. What action should be taken against Indian Government for the human rights abuses in Kashmir, Swinson said “the way forward is to have dialogue to find a way to a peaceful outcome.”

On Israel’s occupation of Palestine, she was in favour of a two-state solution but believed that it was undermined by illegal settlements. “The action I will be taking is to help to recognise Palestinian state which will provide impetus to get parties back to the table.” But she refused to be drawn into whether sanctions should be imposed on Israel for refusing to abide by United Nations resolutions. Challenged on why Muslims should for the Liberal Democrats, Swinson said that “equality” was at the heart of the party. “We respect religion and freedom of belief, strong support for human rights, invest is schools and tackle climate emergency.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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