I wrote an article for Conservative Home, in which I urged the Government to take action against foreign governments which imprison British citizens without due trial.
These governments are taking British nationals hostage; political bargaining chips to be exchanged when needed or returned when expedient. Diplomacy alone yielded pitiful results in the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, and if we are to avoid another protracted (and potentially unsuccessful) parley with Abu Dhabi, our Government needs to be tough and act decisively from the outset. Rhetoric alone is not enough.
Successive governments have boasted about the UK’s unrivalled arsenal of ‘soft power’ – its ability to use diplomacy, intelligence and negotiation to further its interests – but our Government must be bolder in backing up its soft power with the threat of action, a combination of soft and hard power today known as ‘smart power’.
Whether it comes in the form of issuing travel warnings against holidaying in Dubai, threatening economic sanctions, or expelling diplomats, it is time for ministers to make a bold statement that actions have consequences, and that, in the United Kingdom, we put the human rights of our citizens first, even whilst they are abroad. Imprisonment without due cause will not be tolerated.