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Politics: Does lobbying for Chinese state interests make you a suitable candidate to be Foreign Secretary?

By Richard Thomson

A week is a long time in politics.

Seven years must therefore seem like an eternity but that’s the period between David Cameron resigning as Prime Minister and his successor - bar three - appointing him as Foreign Secretary.

Lord Cameron has taken up the role of Foreign Secretary. Picture: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Str
Lord Cameron has taken up the role of Foreign Secretary. Picture: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Str

I posed the question to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Question Time that when he took office, he promised to lead a government marked by “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”, and asked what it was about the judgement of David Cameron and his relationship with Lex Greensill or his lobbying for Chinese state interests that made him a suitable candidate to be Foreign Secretary?

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Of course the response was the answer to some other question the Prime Minister wished he had been asked and passed over the opportunity to provide us with some insight into his thinking.

Having been left with no alternative but to remove Home Secretary Suella Braverman given her incitement of the disgraceful scenes witnessed on Armistice Day, the Prime Minister was then left with a rather difficult conundrum in reshuffling the Cabinet. That this was resolved by inviting back a former Prime Minister who was until very recently still professing he would not return to frontline politics would appear to indicate the extreme dearth of talent Rishi Sunak was able to call upon from the green benches on the government-side.

The fact that David Cameron is no longer even an MP was apparently of little concern. The unelected House of Lords provides a convenient bolt-hole for the UK’s new Foreign Secretary to hide from the questions of MPs elected by their constituents to hold the government to account. Except now when it comes to foreign affairs when we’ll have to make do instead with a junior Minister in the absence of the Foreign Secretary being able to set foot inside the House of Commons.

It's not as if there aren’t a whole range of extremely worrying developments taking place across the world currently which MPs and their constituents might reasonably expect to be able to raise with the Foreign Secretary.

Last week the SNP tabled an amendment which allowed MPs to vote to show their support for a ceasefire in Gaza. Sadly, this was voted down and it troubles me deeply that both the Conservative and Labour leadership in Westminster continue to refuse to back these calls. The fact that over 50 Labour MPs backed a ceasefire demonstrates, I believe, a much broader support for ceasefire calls that are being made by hundreds of charities worldwide and the United Nations.

The deliverance of humanitarian aid to Gaza goes beyond politics and is fundamentally about protecting the lives of innocent Palestinians and innocent Israeli civilians.

I continue to unequivocally condemn the abhorrent terrorist attacks of Hamas and join with the international community in calling for the hostages to be released immediately. Israel, like every other country in the world, has a right to protect itself from terror. Nevertheless, that must be done within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. The actions taken by the Israeli Government has extended far beyond the scope of what I would consider to be either legal or proportionate.

A ceasefire by all parties is the only way to gain safety and security for Palestinians and Israeli citizens, and the only long-term solution is one which has been negotiated peacefully and politically. The current military operation merely results in innocent men, women and children paying the price for atrocities that they are not in any way responsible for.

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