Britain should join the United States in staging a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, a former Conservative Party leader has urged.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith made the plea in the House of Commons within hours of Joe Biden’s administration confirming they will take the action in protest over Chinese human rights abuses.
The senior Tory MP is a longstanding critic of China and has been sanctioned for speaking out against the treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.
Raising a point of order, Sir Iain said: “I discovered just now that the US Government has finally decided that they’re going to have a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in China.
“Many in this House in the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, on both sides of the House, have called for the UK Government to do the same and it is to our distress and annoyance that my Government has failed so far to express a view on this.”
Sir Iain asked if the Government is likely to make a statement to the House and explain whether or not they are going to “boycott the Winter Olympics, both ministers and officials”.
He added: “They should do it now.”
Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans said he was not aware of any forthcoming statement from the Government.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a briefing on Monday: “US diplomatic or official representation would treat these games as business as usual in the face of the PRC’s egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang, and we simply can’t do that.”
She said US athletes will continue to compete and will “have our full support”, but added “we will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games”, which will take place in February.
Foreign Office minister Amanda Milling last week told MPs: “No decisions have been made in terms of Government attendance.”