Yvonne Ridley: Shameless May and her shared values with the world's dodgiest characters

CommonSpace columnist Yvonne Ridley says the friends the UK is making ahead of its divorce from the EU should have people worried

THE last strand of moral fibre holding together the British government was unpicked in the Westminster Parliament this week with a simple question posed by Alex Salmond.

Normally the cut and thrust of Salmond's barbed questions gives rise to laughter but yesterday there was none - on either side of the House - as he asked Theresa May about her willingness for Britain to trade with one of the most odious dictators on the planet.

It was a simple question, devastatingly put: "Can the prime minister identify for the house what shared values she has in common with president Rodrigo Duterte?" 

 

 

Salmond exposed May's alarming desperation in seeking trade deals after Brexit during Prime Minister's Questions when he criticised her for sending Liam Fox, international trade secretary, to the Philippines in search of business. Defending the move, May said she wanted  a "truly global Britain and we want to ensure prosperity across the whole of this country and jobs for ordinary working families".

As she was speaking during the final PMQs of this parliament, legal documents were being scrutinised by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague which contained serious allegations against the controversial leader of the Philippines. Submitted by lawyer Jude Sabio, counsel of confessed Davao Death Squad assassin Edgar Matobato, the contents may well come back to shame the British government.

Since the Philippines is a signatory to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, the court can accept jurisdiction, which means lawyer Sabio is well within his rights to ask the ICC prosecutor toinvestigate what he described as the "terrifying, gruesome and disastrous continuing commission of extrajudicial executions or mass murder" in the Philippines.

Article 14 of the Statute provides that "a state party may refer to the prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the court appear to have been committed requesting the prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes".

So what message are the Tories sending out to voters in the UK? That it's perfectly acceptable to sit down and deal with individuals like Duterte? 

So what message are the Tories sending out to voters in the UK? That it's perfectly acceptable to sit down and deal with individuals like Duterte? 

Both Death Squad assassin Edgar Matobato and his supervisor, or "handler", retired policeman Arturo Lascañas - who has himself confessed to killing at least 200 people in Davao City - have given testimony which, in most countries, would have brought about the resignation and prosecution of the leader.

However this is President Duterte, the politician who called US President Barack Obama the "son of a whore" when the leader of the free world criticised the Philippine leader's human rights record. Now that there is a new man in the White House, it seems Theresa May has developed political amnesia over that episode. 

Others remember only too well Duterte's human rights record, so when Liam Fox talked about "shared values" with Duterte as he sought to do some post-Brexit trade deals with the man whose war on drugs has killed 7,000 people, it caused alarm among right-minded people and human rights groups in the west.

Theresa May might well have gone to the Philippines herself but she was too busy in Saudi Arabia at the time flogging weapons to a regime which doesn't recognise the human rights of women. And not once did she challenge the Saudis' abysmal human rights record, including the bombing of schools and hospitals in Yemen. British bombs sold to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have helped kill more than 10,000 civilians and displaced more than three million people.

In the new post-Brexit Britain it is clear the Tories are willing to deal with international pariahs, which is something every voter should consider in the General Election. 

So while May and her Tory government insist the UK will emerge "a stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking nation" as a result of their trade deals it is clear they, like the Saudis and leaders like Duterte have one shared characteristic - they are all utterly shameless.

However, in the new post-Brexit Britain it is clear the Tories are willing to deal with international pariahs, which is something every voter should consider in the General Election. 

Surely our votes are worth far more than giving them to a party which will shred human rights for a fast buck?

Picture courtesy of Number 10

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