UK’s Conservative Party clarifies its stance on Sri Lanka

4 December 2019 11:11 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Clarifying the UK's Conservative Party’s stance with regard to its reference to Sri Lanka in its election manifesto, senior party officials said the reference is applicable only to the Middle East but not to Cyprus or Sri Lanka.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its attention had been drawn to remarks made by a member of parliament, Udaya Gammanpila, over media yesterday in connection with the reference to Sri Lanka in the election manifesto of the Conservative Party in the run-up to the general election in the United Kingdom scheduled for December 12, 2019.

The full statement is as follows:

In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Relations wishes to state that a paragraph on page 53 of the Conservative Party manifesto which refers to Sri Lanka is worded as follows:

'We will continue to support international initiatives to achieve reconciliation, stability and justice across the world, and in the former conflict zones such as Cyprus, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, where we maintain our support for a two-state solution;'

Following the publication of the manifesto, the High Commission of Sri Lanka in the UK in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Relations took immediate steps to make strong representation to the Co-Chair of the Conservative Party The Rt. Hon. James Cleverly with regard to the distortion contained in the manifesto in its reference to Sri Lanka.

This was conveyed through a letter by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in the UK Manisha Gunasekera on 27 November 2019 addressed to the Co-Chair of the Conservative party.

The High Commissioner affirmed that the reference to Sri Lanka as a country which requires a two-state solution is unacceptable, and has never been the position of any party in the UK. She reaffirmed that successive British governments led by all parties have always supported peace and reconciliation in a united Sri Lanka. The High Commissioner, therefore, requested that the paragraph be suitably amended to accurately reflect the Conservative party position on Sri Lanka.  A copy of the letter is annexed herewith for perusal (Annex I)

Subsequent to representation by the High Commissioner through the above submission as well as through outreach to senior representatives of the Conservative Party, the Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Paul Scully issued the following clarification on the subject to the High Commissioner by his email communication of 27 November 2019:

‘The party’s position regarding Sri Lanka has not changed. To be absolutely clear, the two-state line in the section was intended to refer only to the Israel-Palestine situation in the Middle East (as is stated policy).  The commitments to Sri Lanka and Cyprus were simply about continuing existing efforts to support peace and reconciliation in divided societies.’

The above position has also been reiterated by The Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the UK through her public post on social media (Facebook) of 30 November where she has further added the following:

‘The subsequent reference to a two-state solution refers to the Middle East, NOT to Cyprus or Sri Lanka.  I have been in contact with Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and he has confirmed this. ‘

Conservative party Deputy Chair Paul Scully has in his twitter message of 3 December 2019 once again reiterated the above position of the Conservative party, stating the following:

‘There is no Conservative manifesto commitment relating to the makeup of governance of Sri Lanka. … two-state relate only to the Middle East.’

The Ministry of Foreign Relations is of the view that the above would clarify the position of the Conservative Party on the issue as well as action taken by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the High Commission in London to correct the distortion.  

  Comments - 6

  • Mr X Wednesday, 04 December 2019 04:11 PM

    Inventors of the English language do not know how to structure a sentence in English?

    Pantha Kumaran Wednesday, 04 December 2019 04:38 PM

    Any idiot can read the contents of the manifesto. Read it again and again before make any stupid comments.

    Vernon Thursday, 05 December 2019 08:23 AM

    If the intention was to include only Middle East, then there should not have been a (,) before Middle East. Definitely the sentence had not be structured to give the correct meaning, if SL was excluded.

    Deepal Gunawardena Thursday, 05 December 2019 10:47 AM

    How Convenient?

    Yassus de Silva Monday, 09 December 2019 08:41 PM

    Simplest solution is to republish the manifesto with the correct version of the sentence officially by the Conservative Party.

    Kathir Ravichandra Thursday, 12 December 2019 08:54 AM

    Whilst acknowledging the current policy of the Conservative Party in Sri Lanka, the island of Sri Lanka would be a lot better place today, if the British had applied the two state principle when granting independence in 1948.


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