CHINA’S ambassador to the UK has been banned from Parliament in retaliation at sanctions slapped on several MPs and peers for speaking out against human rights abuses.
In an unprecedented step, the Speakers of the Commons and Lords joined forces to stop Zheng Zeguang from attending a boozy reception scheduled for tonight.
Tory MPs were fuming that one of their own colleagues had rolled out the red carpet for him with an invite to an exclusive event for the All Party Parliamentary Group on China.
But at the 11th hour Speakers Linsday Hoyle and John McFall weighed in to force them to meet elsewhere.
They said: “The Speakers of both Houses are in agreement that this particular APPG China meeting should take place elsewhere considering the current sanctions against members.
Sir Lindsay said it was “not appropriate” for him to come to the estate, saying if China lifted the restrictions he would be free to go.
APPG China chairman Richard Graham, who invited him to speak, told PA it was “very important” for the group to hear from the new ambassador and discuss various issues with him.
But MPs hailed the sensational ban and said it would have been an “insult to free speech” if he was allowed to set foot in the heart of UK democracy.
In a joint statement, sanctioned politicians Iain Duncan Smith, Lord Alton, Baroness Kennedy, Tim Loughton, and Nusrat Ghani welcomed the “strong, principled stand” from the speakers.
They added: “It would have been an insult to Parliament and to the principle of free speech upon which democracies are founded if the official representative of a regime which had just banned Parliamentarians from entering Chinese territory because they had stood up in the House of Commons to call out China’s appalling human rights abuses was allowed to set foot in the Mother of Parliaments which cherishes those freedoms.”
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