Two Isis terrorists would 'roam around UK' if government did not share intelligence with US, minister claims

Diane Abbott described the decision to drop Britain's blanket opposition to the death penalty as 'abhorrent' and 'shameful'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 23 July 2018 17:56
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Security minister Ben Wallace: two Isis terrorists would 'roam around UK' if government did not share intelligence with US

A minister has been heckled by MPs as he claimed two Isis terrorists would be able to “roam around the UK” if the government had decided not to share intelligence with the United States.

The outlandish remarks from Ben Wallace, the security minister, came as he faced intense criticism for the decision to drop Britain’s blanket opposition to the death penalty in order to allow the two notorious Isis fighters to be sent to the United States.

Mr Wallace also confirmed that Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh – said to be members of the brutal four-man “Beatles” cell of executioners in Syria and Iraq – are currently imprisoned in Syria and have been stripped of their British nationality, and it was unclear how they would return to the UK.

But despite that, the minister then appeared to claim the two terrorists would be let loose on the British public if the government did not allow the US call the shots in their case.

To jeers in the House of Commons, he said: “Simply to say if we were unable to prosecute them in this country we should simply let them free to roam around the United Kingdom because it would upset (politicians here) not to share our evidence with the United States is simply bizarre and not justice to the victims.”

Raising the urgent question on the highly-contentious move to abstain from seeking assurances on the death penalty, Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said it was not possible to be a “little bit in favour” of the death penalty, adding: “Either we offer consistent opposition or we don’t”.

She added: “This decision to abandon our principled opposition to the death penalty is both abhorrent and shameful, and I call on ministers even at this late stage to reverse this decision.”

During the session, Mr Wallace also faced criticism from the Conservative benches, with the former attorney general claiming the decision was a “major departure from normal policy” and asked minister to specify the last time there had been such a departure.

He added: “Those are the key questions and until they're answered I have to say to him this issue is going to continue to haunt the Government.”

Earlier, a Number 10 spokesperson said the prime minister was “aware” of the plan and “supports the way that these are being handled”.

They added: “The ultimate aim for all of us in our discussions with the US is to make sure that these men face the rest of their lives in prison. That is also what the victims' families want, and in this instance, after careful and considered advice, government took the decision not to seek assurances. That was deemed by ministers to be appropriate.”

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