Friday, 29 May, 2020

Chronology of major events connecting new British PM Theresa May to Iran

Theresa May is the new British Conservative Party leader and will become the UK’s second female prime minister on Wednesday.

Mrs. May, 59, will replace David Cameron, who is resigning after Britons rejected his advice and voted on June 23 to quit the EU.

MP for Maidenhead since 1997, May was appointed UK Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by in 2010.

There are few key events connecting new British prime minister to Iran.

 In recent years, however, her name at least three times has been raised in media in relation to Iran.

Theresa May barred Iranian opposition leader from entering UK (2011)

Maryam Rajavi is one of the leaders of the anti-Iran terrorist group Mujahedin Khalq, or the MKO. The terrorist group has assassinated many Iranian officials and killed many other Iranian citizens since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

In 2011, then Home Secretary Theresa May banned Maryam Rajavi from coming to Britain to speak about Iranian allegedly mistreated women.

May said Rajavi’s entry to the Britain would not be conducive to the public good for reasons of foreign policy and in light of the need to take a firm stance against terrorism.

 “I have concluded that maintaining Mrs. Rajavi’s exclusion is justified as I do not consider her presence in the UK to be conducive to the public good” May said.

“The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they might seek to undermine our society,” she continued.

Mrs Rajavi was originally excluded from Britain in 1997 because of her leadership role in the “MEK” People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran.

This group was proscribed as a terrorist organization before the ban was lifted by the Court of Appeal in 2008.

The Home Secretary stated that lifting the exclusion would cause significant damage to the UK’s interests in relation to Iran and place British people and property in Iran and the region at risk.

May accused of blocking UK embassy reopening in Iran (2015)

In Jan 2015, May was accused by the UK Foreign Office of blocking attempts to reopen the British embassy in Iran because of her refusal to back down on immigration.

Mrs May was said to be delaying progress by refusing to reopen a visa office at the embassy – a key demand by Tehran – until 4,000 Iranians are deported from Britain, including asylum seekers and residents whose visas have expired.

UK senior government sources told the Times that the home secretary risked undermining delicate negotiations to rebuild relations with Iran, where the embassy closed after it was attacked by a student mob in 2011.

“The Home Office refuses to open a visa service while undocumented Iranians remain in Britain. It’s definitely holding things up,” a Foreign Office official told the Times.

Richard Bacon, a Conservative MP, who had become chairman of the parliamentary group on Iran, described the delays as “very frustrating”.

He said there was a “big agenda to discuss” adding “many regional issues are unlikely to be solved satisfactorily without Iranian input”.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond re-opened UK embassy in Tehran officially in August 2015.

Theresa May, a ‘long-standing friend of Israel’

According to Israeli newspaper Jpost, Jerusalem is confident that the strong relationship with Britain it enjoyed under Prime Minister David Cameron will continue when Home Secretary Theresa May takes over the job.

“May has been a long-standing friend of Israel and the Jewish community.” according to former Israeli ambassador to London Daniel Taub.

Taub has said that as home secretary, May was very supportive of “our efforts to deepen British- Israel ties in the area of homeland security, and also very receptive to the concerns of the Jewish community regarding anti-Semitism and violent extremism.”

May’s only visit to Israel was in the summer 2014, when the bodies of the three Israeli kidnapped youth were discovered.

In a speech in September of that year to the Conservative Friends of Israel, she discussed that trip, and that speech provides a glimpse of her outlook on Israel.

May ticked off the threats Israel faces, from Hezbollah and Hamas to the collapse of Syria the threats from Iran. She then said, “No democratic government could, in the face of such danger, do anything but maintain a strong defense and security capability and be prepared to deploy it if necessary. That is why I – and the whole British government – will always defend Israel’s right to defend itself.”

In another speech, this one at a Bnei Akiva Independence Day celebration at a London synagogue last year, May – after gallantly trying a few words in Hebrew – said that Israel is a “fulfillment of many generations of struggle.”

The parliamentary chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, MP Eric Pickles, issued a statement saying that “Israel can rest assured that a UK led by Theresa May will be there in its moments of need.”

He said that May has a “deep understanding of the seriousness of the threat radical Islam poses to the UK, Israel and wider international community. It will not be one that she takes lightly.”

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