UK told to adopt hard line on Iran post Brexit

A leading backbench MP is urging his government to follow America's lead in its approach to Tehran

A woman holds a portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on September 13, 2020, against its execution in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz and against the Iranian government. Iran said it executed wrestler Navid Afkari, 27, on September 12, 2020 at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz over the murder of a public sector worker during anti-government protests in August 2018. Reports published abroad say Afkari was condemned on the basis of confessions extracted under torture, prompting online campaigns of support for his release. - Netherlands OUT
 / AFP / ANP / Evert Elzinga

Britain must strike an independent foreign policy post-Brexit that is significantly tougher on Iran, a leading backbench MP has said.

With the UK no longer shackled by presenting a united European Union front it should establish a hard line on Tehran similar to that adopted by America, said David Jones MP, arguing that Europe’s position was “appeasement to Iran”.

The former Secretary of State for Wales has also called for an international inquiry into a massacre in Iran in which allegedly 30,000 political prisoners, including children, were executed in 1988.

Mr Jones, 68, said despite the ongoing trade negotiations with the EU, Britain should not lose sight of forging its own foreign positions to “exert its significant diplomatic influence on the global stage” to act in the UK’s best interests.

He questioned why Britain was not making its own foreign policy despite Brexit happening earlier this year, particularly with Iran continuing to disrupt the Middle East.

“Why are we standing by while Iran continues to demonstrate an undiminished commitment to malign activities, including aggressive regional destabilisation in the Middle East and the development and testing of ballistic missiles that could one day carry a nuclear warhead?

He accused the EU of failing to stand up for human rights and for not taking a strong position against rogue states. “Nowhere has this been more apparent than in European policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

He questioned the current British government approach to supporting France and Germany in continuing the nuclear deal with Iran despite the country failing to abide by its terms. Mr Jones, a hardline Brexiteer, suggested that Britain should support the American position on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by withdrawing its support for the agreement.

UK complicit in EU appeasement

Britain, along with France and Germany, last week signalled that they would not support Washington in its push to bring “snapback” sanctions against Iran for breaching the JCPOA.

"Despite Iran's repudiation of the deal, the EU has pushed back against the US position on the JCPOA and the UK is unfortunately still standing alongside them," he wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

Even before the nuclear deal, Europe has generally pursued conciliation and arguably outright appeasement

“Sadly, this has been the case for decades where policy on Iran is concerned. Even before the nuclear deal, Europe has generally pursued conciliation and arguably outright appeasement, to the extent of even overlooking vile crimes against humanity in order to avoid undermining relations with the Islamic Republic.”

He accused Europe of “studiously ignoring” the 1988 massacre of Iranians despite being alerted by dissidents at the time.

“Against the background of Western inaction, the death toll rapidly climbed to an estimated 30,000, primarily opposition activists affiliated to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation (MEK). Despite repeated international calls for an independent enquiry into the massacre, no one has been held accountable for the killings to this day.”

The 1988 executions of thousands of Iranian political prisoners were commemorated by representatives of the People's Mujahedin of Iran in France in 2019. AFP  

But according to a former senior Iranian official, children aged 13 were among those hanged from cranes, six at a time, in a horrific two-month execution of political prisoners on the direct orders of Ayatollah Khomeini following the end of the Iran-Iraq War. Other estimates have put the death toll at 2,800.

Mr Jones called for Britain to formally request an international inquiry into the 1988 bloodbath as it would “undoubtedly encourage other governments to acknowledge how morally imperative, and long overdue, such an action is.”

He added that Britain should join America by reimposing sanctions on Iran.