LFI MPs push government for tougher policy towards Iran

LFI parliamentarians have today urged the government to take a more robust and comprehensive stance towards the Iranian regime at a Westminster Hall Debate on the topic.

PLP chair John Cryer MP

In his remarks, Parliamentary Labour Party chair John Cryer MP – a longstanding campaigner on the issue – once again set out the case for proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Iranian regime’s ideological terror army: “They want to wipe Israel off the face of the planet, they want to murder Jewish people and gay men and women, and they want to take women as a whole back to the stone age. They are doing their best to do that not only in Iran, but elsewhere.”

“That repellent view of the world also applies to Tehran’s proxies. We are dealing not just with Hezbollah and Hamas, as bad as they are, but with the criminal gangs to which the hon. Member referred. They operate in this country, across Europe, in North America and elsewhere. That terrorist and criminal network poses a clear threat, way beyond Iran and the middle east.”

He went on to express his frustration at the government’s continued refusal to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation: “I would have thought that the very least the Government—indeed, any democratic Government—could do is proscribe the IRGC in its entirety, as the hon. Member said. What perplexes me is that I and many other Members on both sides of the House have raised this issue repeatedly on the Floor of the House of Commons. I have a lot of respect for the Minister, but I have heard Minister after Minister expressing sympathy with full proscription at the Dispatch Box, and then nothing happens. That leads me and Members on both sides of the House to the conclusion that FCDO and Home Office Ministers sympathise with the idea of proscription, but that somebody in Downing Street, the FCDO or the Home Office is blocking it. I for one cannot see the rationale behind failing to proscribe the IRGC.”

LFI parliamentary supporter Andrew Gwynne MP

Later in the debate, LFI parliamentary supporter Andrew Gwynne MP echoed LFI’s policy recommendations from last year’s pamphlet on Iran in calling for the UK’s Magnitsky sanctions regime to be employed against Iranian human rights abusers.

He also reiterated the case for proscription of the IRGC: “The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military, has never been more powerful. Indeed, it is perhaps an understatement to refer to the IRGC as a branch; Reuters has called it an industrial empire, and it is estimated that anywhere between 10% and 50% of the Iranian economy is controlled through the IRGC’s subsidiaries and trusts. The IRGC has been linked to terror attacks, hostage takings, assassinations, human rights violations and the intimidation of journalists and critics across the globe, including here in the United Kingdom. From Yemen to Lebanon, from Iraq to Israel, and from Syria to Saudi Arabia, Iran has waged an ideological war against peace and stability—the very point that the hon. Member for Henley (John Howell) was making. The IRGC provides financial support to several terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban.”

Gwynne went on to discuss Iran’s negative impact as a barrier to peace in the region – “The point is that the involvement of the IRGC in other terrorist groups, particularly in the middle east, is to further Iranian foreign policy goals. It is a major barrier to peace across the middle east, including to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority” – and discussed the threats posed by Iran to Israel: “The IRGC’s commander, General Hossein Salami, has stated his intention to erase Israel from the global political map, something that is particularly concerning given the creation of IRGC proxy-controlled territory in Syria and Lebanon.”

Shadow Foreign Office Minister Catherine West MP, representing Labour’s frontbench, reiterated the party’s support for IRGC proscription and made clear that “we continue to be concerned about the regime’s support for terror groups and militias, as seen in its threats against Israel and its continued military involvement in Syria and elsewhere”.

You can read the full debate here.