British Prisoners in Iran

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:59 pm on 18th July 2017.

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Photo of Ranil Jayawardena Ranil Jayawardena Conservative, North East Hampshire 4:59 pm, 18th July 2017

I congratulate Tulip Siddiq on securing this important debate. It seems that this matter hinges on dual nationality, which is the barrier to the British Government being able to provide the services that we would expect them to provide to any British citizen. That is not good enough. We need to find ways forward.

I respect the Minister and his predecessor, who have always honestly set out that they are doing what they can diplomatically. The alternative, which I am sure no one would advocate, is to send in gunboats. The reality of the situation is that we either use force or work through the appropriate channels, as the Minister’s predecessor did and I know he will too. I simply ask him, exactly as the hon. Lady did, to do more. I ask him to redouble our efforts to ensure that the Iranian Government are under no illusion about where we stand, and to continue to provide as much consular assistance as possible under the diplomatic arrangements that we have.

I turn to a slightly different point, which was made earlier. The Governments of the P5+1 made an agreement to lift sanctions, and the majority of international sanctions were lifted, with near-immediate effect, in January 2016. Given that, we have lost the leverage that we need, so I urge the Government to work with our allies—not just those in the region but President Trump in the United States, who criticised that deal for removing leverage.