Tuesday, April 12, 2022
LONDON: The British government has distanced itself from Foreign Office Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith after he tweeted in support of ousted prime minister Imran Khan.
British media reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office has slapped down Foreign Office Minister Lord Goldsmith after he intervened in Pakistani politics over the ousting of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s prime minister through a vote of no-confidence.
Downing Street was asked whether Lord Goldsmith, who is Foreign Office Minister for the Pacific and the International Environment, was speaking on behalf of the government.
A spokesperson responded: “With regard to Pakistan, we respect Pakistan’s democratic system and we would not get into its domestic political affairs. We have longstanding ties with Pakistan and are monitoring developments.” The 10 Downing Street spokesperson was unable to say whether Lord Goldsmith would be told to take down his tweet or make clear it was issued in a personal capacity.
Lord Zac Goldsmith — whose elder sister Jemima Goldsmith was once married to Imran Khan — said he was “sad” at the developments in Pakistan. Zac Goldsmith said: “Imran Khan is a good and decent man, one of the least corruptible politicians on the world stage. I have no doubt he will be returned with a big majority in the upcoming elections.”
Number 10 Downing Street stressed that Zac Goldsmith’s remarks did not represent the UK government’s position. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deputy spokesperson said the UK would not get involved in Pakistan’s domestic affairs, adding: “We respect Pakistan’s political system.”
During Zac Goldsmith’s campaign against London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Imran Khan had supported Goldsmith and urged his followers to support his election bid. Sadiq Khan had expressed his anger over Imran Khan’s support for Goldsmith.
Zac Goldsmith is the Co-Chairman of Conservative Friends of India (CF India) and often raises funds for Indian organisations. Conservative Friends of India is affiliated with the Conservative Party which aims to build stronger links between the Conservative Party, the British Indian community and India.
Zac Goldsmith shares his role with Dr Rami Ranger CBE and both of them are known for campaigning for greater UK-India ties. During the 2016 campaign against Sadiq Khan, Goldsmith had issued a leaflet targeted at the Indian Hindu community in which he urged British Indians to vote for him and warned them against voting for Sadiq Khan, a British Pakistani. Goldsmith lost his seat to Liberal Democrats after losing to Sadiq Khan and then Boris Johnson brought him to Parliament after handing him a life peerage in December 2019.
Zac and Jemima Goldsmith’s brother Ben Goldsmith also announced support for Imran Khan on Twitter following Khan’s ouster. He said: “My brother-in-law @ImranKhanPTI is a good and honourable man, motivated only by a strong desire to do good for his country. His record as PM is exceptional, most of all on the biggest issue of our time: Pakistan under Imran is now a world leader on environmental restoration.”
Goldsmith brothers support Israel against the Palestinian authority. Last year in May, the Foreign Office minister quickly deleted his message, which had declared his support for Israel and its military against Palestinians.
Zac Goldsmith retweeted a tweet that had been posted by the Israeli military, about Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli retaliation.
He added the comment: “No country on Earth would be expected to tolerate these incessant attacks on innocent civilians — by an organisation committed to their total eradication. Why should Israel?”
The tweet was deleted after Goldsmith was accused of breaking the official protocol. It’s understood the UK government had forced Zac Goldsmith to delete his tweet.
Originally published in The News