ews of Ranil Wickremesinghe securing a 4th Term as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister has been greeted with enthusiasm and expectation in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party which has historically enjoyed a close relationship with the UNP. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, which defied pollsters and won an overall majority at Britain’s May General Election, sent an official tweet from No.10 Downing St. praising Sri Lanka for a peaceful General Election, duly congratulated Ranil Wickremesinghe on being re-elected as Prime Minister and added with reassurance that “Britain remains a steadfast partner on reconciliation & peace.”
Philip Hammond, British Foreign Secretary, released an official statement on behalf of the British Government which appeared on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website:
“On behalf of the British Government, I send my warmest congratulations to Ranil Wickremesinghe on the occasion of his victory. The manner in which the election was run was a credit to the Sri Lankan people. Britain is and will remain a steadfast partner for Sri Lanka as it continues on the path towards delivering reconciliation and a lasting peace across the country. I look forward to continued work with Mr Wickremesinghe and the new government.”
Hugo Swire, FCO Minister of State, who has responsibility within the FCO, for dealing specifically with Sri Lanka offered his congratulations via Twitter to Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, adding “Look forward to continuing our work on Peace and Prosperity”.
Leading Parliamentarian and Former Defence Secretary, Dr. Liam Fox MP, who has maintained a decades-long interaction with Sri Lanka and her politicians from all parties and who shared a special with former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, offered his own personal congratulations:
“I am delighted that Sri Lanka has taken a decisive step towards the political stability required to unleash its full social and economic potential. I congratulate Ranil on an excellent result and I hope that he will build on his relationship with the President to give this wonderful country the government it deserves”.
Mr. Andrew Rosindell, the experienced and popular Romford MP, who has a great affection for Sri Lanka and promotes reconciliation among Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities in his constituency, also released a message. He serves as Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka as well as being an active member of the influential Foreign Affairs Select Committee and issued a more detailed statement:
“I was pleased to see the Sri Lankan Parliamentary elections pass peacefully and without significant disruption last week. These elections have delivered a new Parliament and new personnel throughout government, and crucially, appear to have helped consolidate the positions of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
The Rajapaksa family has for too long dominated Sri Lankan politics and change was long over-due.
With the election of Mr. Sirisena and a comprehensive victory for the United National Front for Good Governance in the Parliamentary elections, the Sri Lankan government now appears to have the people, the will, and the leadership necessary to carry out the comprehensive political reform that Sri Lanka needs: Reducing the power of the executive, reforming the electoral system, and delivering justice for all the people of Sri Lanka.
Additional good news is the strong position that the UNP (the UK Conservatives’ sister party in Sri Lanka) now holds in the Sri Lankan Parliament. We will have to see what they can achieve in coalition over the next few years, but I am confident that, with Mr. Wickremesinghe as PM, and the UNP in a strong position in Parliament, Sri Lanka now has politicians with the strength of leadership to carry the country forward into a new era of stability, and economic and political freedom.
Mr. Rosindell concludes by hoping that there now exists the possibility of increased better engagement and co-operation between Britain and Sri Lanka
With the political transition of the past year now complete, the British government should now look to strengthen its ties with Sri Lanka once again. With the Conservatives in power in Britain and the UNP in government in Sri Lanka, we now have two governments broadly working on the same page, and with a similar set of values. I therefore look forward to seeing the British and Sri Lankan governments working together long into the future, and consolidating further Sri Lanka’s status as a cherished member of the Commonwealth.”
As yet, there have been no official responses from Parliamentarians from the other main British political parties, ie the Labour Party, the Scottish National Party or the Lib Dems. This is mainly explained by the facts that the recent Sri Lanka elections took place while the Westminster Parliament has been in recess and because the Labour Party has been otherwise distracted and preoccupied by a very controversial internal campaign among its MPs to elect its new Party Leader and Deputy Leader.