Exiting the European Union (Sanctions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:51 pm on 29th April 2019.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Conservative, North East Bedfordshire 6:51 pm, 29th April 2019

The sanctions have been imposed on a series of individuals connected with the regime. They affect their financial transactions. Many of them remain involved internationally; they want to make investments, to have money coming through, and to be able to conduct their business. Sanctions make that difficult. We know that around any regime there are the cronies who keep it in place through their use of money and assets. Sanctions make all that much more difficult.

That is different from the case of those who might be identified through another process as being guilty of crimes. There must be some sort of investigation into war crimes after the Syrian conflict comes to an end. Sanctions increase pressure on the regime to recognise that there can be no normalisation unless it follows the UN process, there is a political process, and there is political change in Syria that means that the people have an opportunity of a normal life after the conflict.

If the sanctions regime was not there—if the international community forgot about Syria—the situation would be so much worse, so I welcome the measures proposed by my right hon. Friend the Minister. In answer to the last point made by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, I believe that it will be possible to have a strong relationship with the European Union and other entities to ensure international co-operation on these sanctions. We are an island in one sense, but in another we are not. We need to make sure that we have the contacts and the abilities to ensure that we are part of an international sanctions regime to ensure maximum pressure on those who have caused harm and perpetuate a system that causes damage.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Minister for bringing the measures forward, and to the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland for her response, which ensures that there is consensus on this, as there must be. For the people of Syria, this will bring a welcome sense that they are not forgotten, and that there will be justice for the crimes committed against them.