Boris Johnson skewers Jeremy Corbyn over Iranian state TV payment

The two British politicians exchanged barbs over escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington in the Middle East

A handout photograph taken and released by the UK Parliament on January 8, 2020, shows opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn taking part in the first Prime Minister's Questions of the new year.  - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO USE FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SATIRICAL, ADVERTISING PURPOSES - MANDATORY CREDIT " AFP PHOTO / Jessica Taylor /UK Parliament"
 / AFP / UK PARLIAMENT / JESSICA TAYLOR / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO USE FOR ENTERTAINMENT, SATIRICAL, ADVERTISING PURPOSES - MANDATORY CREDIT " AFP PHOTO / Jessica Taylor /UK Parliament"

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hit out at opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn over payments the Labour politician received from the Iranian state-funded television station Press TV.

Mr Johnson made the comments during a heated back and forth with his Labour counterpart over Britain’s response to escalating tensions between the United States and Iran in the Middle East.

Deflecting an accusation from Mr Corbyn that he was unable to stand up to US President Donald Trump in the wake of a Washington-ordered drone strike against Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, the prime minister attacked the Labour leader’s appearance on the Iranian channel.

"This is absolute fiction. But what I will say is that the UK will continue to work for de-escalation in the region," Mr Johnson said.

"But he should be in absolutely no doubt, and this is of course a leader of the Opposition who famously received £10,000 from the Iranian Press TV” said.  "I'm very surprised, at the end of these exchanges, that he is yet to condemn the activities of Qassem Suleimani.” the prime minister added.

The Labour leader’s registered interests as an MP show he received £20,000 for appearances he made on Press TV between 2009 and 2012.

The Iran-backed channel had its license revoked by the UK regulator in 2012 after it aired the forced confession of Iranian Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari.

Mr Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party in September 2015.

Speaking in British parliament following Iran’s retaliation for the killing of Suleimani with ballistic missile strikes against two coalition bases in Iraq, Mr Johnson confirmed that the UK is continuing its work to de-escalate in the stand-off between the US and Iran in Iraq.

"As far as we can tell there were no casualties last night sustained by the US and no British personnel were injured in the attacks," the prime minister said.

"We are doing everything we can to protect UK interests in the region, with HMS Defender and HMS Montrose operating in an enhanced state of readiness to protect shipping in the Gulf," he added.

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