Apparently there was quite a lot going on in Parliament last week but I was free from the media feeding-frenzy being in the Middle East with the Defence Select Committee. It is a sobering experience visiting countries on the front line in the war against the murderous jihadist cult called Daesh. While there are some refugee camps, the vast majority of displaced Syrians are living among Jordanians and Lebanese in their towns and villages. In Jordan I visited a British funded training project for the Jordanian Army. It made me hugely proud to see Arabic speaking British Army officers embedded into the Jordanian Army and making it better. In Lebanon I travelled around Beirut in an armoured Toyota visiting Ministers and others to hear about their deep gratitude for what Britain is doing to help them tackle Daesh and cope with refugees. In both these countries the fight is an existential one. Their enemy would like nothing more than to take over these countries, murdering their rulers and any not conforming to their ghastly ways. Keeping these countries stable and secure is vital to our interests in so many ways, not least because their loss would cause a migrant crisis that would make current pressures on Europe pale into insignificance.
Whether it was chatting to aircrews at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus or seeing what we are doing for fragile countries bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis, I was left with huge pride in the servicemen and women, the diplomats and aid workers we send to these countries and for the job they do.
One in every 120 people in the world is a refugee or displaced from their home in their own country. Most of these are far from our shores in countries that are least able to cope. When the EU agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees, Britain was exempted from this arrangement but rightly chose to spend generous sums supporting refugees in the Middle East as well as accepting around 20,000 Syrians in Britain. This is a problem that will not go away. The brutal civil war in Syria will take a decade for the protagonists to fight their way to a weary standstill. In that time Britain will need to be a leader, engaged in Europe and beyond. This is as much in our own interests as it is for the many troubled parts of the world.