Record 248 MPs call for David Miliband to go to Cuba

Campaign News | Friday, 13 November 2009

As the House of Commons closed for business at the end of the 2008-2009 Parliamentary session 248 MPs had signed Early Day Motion 1171.

The motion specifically calls on the Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP to visit Cuba to help develop better relations. It has been signed by MPs from all the parties and includes 17 former Ministers including former Conservative leader Michael Howard; former International Development Secretary Clare Short, and Gerald Kaufman.

158 Labour MPs signed representing around 65% of the Parliamentary Labour Party who are able to sign EDMs. 55 Liberal Democrat MPs signed out of a possible 60.

The official Conservative Party response to the motion states that there is little need to sign the EDM as “the Conservative Party is already leading the way on this issue, as evidenced by the visit to Cuba by the Rt. Hon William Hague MP, the Shadow Foreign Secretary”. Despite this, 20 Conservative MPs signed the EDM, including Ann Widdecombe and John Gummer. Both the official response and the number of Conservative signers indicate that a Cameron Government may well move things forward quicker than Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn MP said

“248 MPs have condemned the US led blockade of Cuba and it is time for the Government to pursue an independent foreign policy. It's time for Ministers to listen to their own back benchers”

The UN voted in October for the 18th year in succession for an end to the blockade of Cuba. This year the vote was 187 against the blockade with just the US, Israel and Palau voting for its continuation.

Several European Ministers have recently visited Cuba. On his most recent visit earlier this month Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said his objective was 'to continue strengthening relations with a great country for Spain, such as Cuba is, and it also is an opportunity to continue preparing for the Spanish presidency of the European Union”. Spain takes over the European Union presidency in January and it is widely expected that they will develop far better EU-Cuba relations.

In a time of recession the UK Government should be grasping the opportunities now to improve trade relations. Oil, gas, biotechnology and tourism are some of the areas where the UK could help develop initiatives of mutual benefit. As Latin America develops Cuba is also strategically placed as a transport hub for access to the region.

Rob Miller, Cuba Solidarity Campaign Director said 'It's brilliant to see the MPs pushing for better relations but at the same time it makes it even more embarrassing for the British Government who seem intent on swimming against the tide when it comes to better relations with Cuba. Come on Mr Miliband, the time for change is now'.

Thanks to all the CSC members and supporters who contacted their MPs to get them to sign this EMD.

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