Labour accuses Sajid Javid of banning Hezbollah to boost his ‘leadership ambitions’
Labour has said Sajid Javid must prove that he banned Hezbollah on the basis of “clear evidence” rather than as part of a bid to boost his “leadership ambitions”.
The Home Secretary announced yesterday that the Lebanese political party was among three Islamist organisations to be proscribed in Britain as a terror organisation.
He explained that in the case of Hezbollah it was no longer possible to distinguish between the organisation’s already banned military wing and the political grouping.
Labour however hit back saying ministers had not presented new evidence that would overturn a previous ruling and questioned whether Mr Javid was trying to bolster his hopes of becoming the next Prime Minister.
"The Home Office has previously ruled that there was not sufficient evidence that the political wing of Hezbollah fell foul of proscription criteria, a position confirmed by ministers in the House of Commons last year,” a spokesperson said.
“Ministers have not yet provided any clear evidence to suggest this has changed."
Labour said decisions to proscribe terror groups should be made by civil servants “based on clear evidence that those organisations fall foul of the proscription criteria set out in legislation”.
“The Home Secretary must therefore now demonstrate that this decision was taken in an objective and impartial way, and driven by clear and new evidence, not by his leadership ambitions," the spokesperson added.
Mr Javid who has been tipped among the frontrunners to succeed Theresa May faced similar accusations of self-interest in his decision to ban ISIS bride Shamima Begum from returning to Britain.
Labour also said it had long “rightly” been the view of the Foreign Office that proscribing the group’s “democratically elected” political wing would make it difficult to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon.
The intervention comes after Jeremy Corbyn issued a one-line whip for the rest of Tuesday’s Commons business – meaning MPs did not have to turn up to vote on the order proscribing Hezbollah’s political wing.
Labour MP Wes Streeting condemned the party’s response, telling PoliticsHome: “I support the proscription of Hezbollah without hesitation or equivocation and plan to vote for it in keeping with Labour’s proud social democratic tradition.
"Given voters’ concerns about the instincts of the Labour leadership on security and defence this is a very poor judgement indeed."
Yesterday’s move also included the decision to proscribe African groups Jamaat Nusrat al Islam Wall Muslimin and Ansaroul Islam, which Labour says it supports.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe