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Corbyn: Johnson won't confront Trump over illegal assassination in fear of sabotaging ‘toxic’ trade deal

JEREMY CORBYN accused Boris Johnson of kowtowing to US President Donald Trump today over the assassination of an Iranian general to protect the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal.

The Labour leader also accused the Prime Minister of “hiding behind” his Cabinet colleagues when he was absent from the Commons during the reading of a government statement on Iran.

Earlier in the day, Mr Johnson called a National Security Council meeting with senior government and military officials.

Mr Corbyn urged the government to say what evidence it has to believe that the assassination of Qassem Soleimani in a US air strike in Baghdad last Friday was carried out in “self-defence.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said during the statement that Iran should “resist the urge to retaliate.”

Mr Corbyn said: “[Mr Johnson] is scared to stand up to President Trump because he has hitched his wagon to the prospect of a toxic Trump trade deal.

“At this highly dangerous moment, we find the government giving cover and expressing sympathy for what is widely regarded as an illegal act because [it’s] so determined to keep in with Trump.

“Whatever the record of any state official, the principle and the law is that we don’t go around assassinating foreign leaders.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade’s Andrew Smith added his voice to the condemnation of Gen Soleimani’s killing.

Mr Smith suggested that the assassination was ordered by Mr Trump to “help him politically, rather than because of any military threat.

He warned: “Extrajudicial killings of government officials cannot be normalised and the US government cannot be allowed to act in this way on the world stage, regardless of the brutal and appalling record of the Iranian regime.”

In the Commons, Mr Corbyn also asked what the government is doing to secure the release of British-Iranian nationals imprisoned in Iran.

Richard Ratcliffe, whose wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is languishing in a Tehran jail, urged Mr Johnson today to pay a £400 million debt to Iran, as he pledged to do when he was foreign secretary.

He said his wife, who is halfway through a five-year sentence for alleged spying, fears that she could receive a second prison term.

Iran paid Britain £400m for 1,500 tanks in the 1970s. The deal was cancelled after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was deposed in 1979, but Britain has yet to refund the money.

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