Exiting the European Union (Sanctions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Lewer Andrew Lewer Conservative, Northampton South 3:37 pm, 9th April 2019

I am vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Venezuela.

If we ever manage to leave the EU, one benefit will be greater flexibility on our application of sanctions to countries acting outside the law and actively persecuting their own people, such as Maduro’s Venezuela. We already have some flexibility, but the UK will have much more if we leave the EU properly, although we will still be able to choose to align with the EU when it is not held back by the particular concerns of one or two member states.

Beyond the statutory instrument, one direct action the UK could take right now to demonstrate its determination to tackle the massive theft of funds from Venezuela by corrupt Chavistas would be to declare Maduro’s ambassador to the United Kingdom persona non grata on account of the arrest warrant issued against her by the state of Andorra for the theft of $4 million. The details of the case are well known to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, not least through me, and have appeared in El País as well as in official documents.

The suffering of the Venezuelan people is immense, and my words can hardly do it justice. We have heard others capably underline the shame of the very senior leadership of the Labour party and its active support for the Maduro regime, including entertaining its mouth- pieces on our soil.

I know Venezuela is not a Foreign Office priority, but the Government need to do more to help bring democracy back to that wonderful country, and the statutory instrument is a step in the right direction. I welcome recent comments by the Minister in that direction, but I think more can be done. Action towards the ambassador would also help.