Security minister Tom Tugendhat takes swipe at Foreign Secretary James Cleverly amid claims he’s ‘blocking move to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terror group’
- Security minister Tom Tugendhat fuels claims of Cabinet row over Iran response
- MPs make repeated calls for Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be proscribed
- Foreign Office reported to have stalled on declaring group a terror organisation
Security minister Tom Tugendhat today fuelled claims of a Cabinet row over whether to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terror group.
A series of MPs this afternoon made repeated calls for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to be proscribed.
But, while Mr Tugendhat did not rule out such a move, he appeared to swipe at others in Government who are yet to be convinced to push ahead with action.
It follows reports that Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has stalled plans to proscribe the IRGC amid concerns about keeping communication channels open with the Iranian regime.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat appeared to swipe at others in Government who are yet to be convinced to push ahead with proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
The IRGC was set up over 40 years ago to defend Iran’s Islamic revolution and has since exerted influence across the Middle East
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has reportedly stalled plans to proscribe the IRGC amid concerns about keeping communication channels open with the Iranian regime
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Tugendhat branded the IRGC a ‘vicious organisation’ that had ‘brutalised and murdered’ the Iranian people ‘for far too long’.
He noted how the US had designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organisation in 2019, with Germany and France set to follow suit.
Mr Tugendhat also revealed that he and his boss, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, were ‘as one’ on the issue.
But, in reply to Tory MP Bob Blackman – who was among those to urge the Government to proscribe the IRGC, the security minister hinted at a split around the Cabinet table.
‘He will know it’s not me he has to persuade in this matter and that there are many areas in which I would like to go,’ Mr Tugendhat said.
‘I can assure him this Government is absolutely listening to exactly what he is saying.
‘The Home Secretary and I are as one on this.’
The IRGC was set up over 40 years ago to defend Iran’s Islamic revolution and has since exerted influence across the Middle East.
It has close ties to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and was recently linked to threats against journalists at an independent Iranian TV channel based in Chiswick, west London.
It was recently reported that the Foreign Office has blocked a move to proscribe the IRGC due to a need to keep communication channels open, as well as fears it could lead to the British Embassy being expelled from Tehran in retaliation.
Officials are also said to have raised concerns about how the IRGC would be defined as a terrorist group – which would put it on the same standing as al-Qaeda or Islamic State – because it was a government agency.
Proscription makes it a criminal offence to be a member, encourage support for, or provide funds for a proscribed group.
Mr Tugendhat and Mrs Braverman are claimed to be holding out hope the proscription of the IRGC will eventually come, despite a delay.
Proscription would make it a criminal offence to be a member, encourage support for, or provide funds to the IRGC
In response to Labour MP Virendra Sharma, who also raised the issue in the Commons this afternoon, Mr Tugendhat said: ‘The IRGC is a vicious organisation and its first victims are the Iranian people who have been brutalised and murdered by that despotic regime for far too long.
‘I hope he will be encouraged by the actions that the UK Government is taking at the moment in looking into various of these areas. And also by the work actually being done by some of our partners.
‘It’s interesting to note that of the so-called E3+3, Germany and France appear to be looking at proscribing the IRGC, as the US has already done.’
The security minister, who attends Cabinet meetings, added that the Government ‘always keeps all areas under review’ and ‘speculation has certainly been in that direction’ towards proscription.
‘What we’ve already done is sanction various different elements and any further action will no doubt be announced as soon as it is ready,’ he continued.
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