Ex-Foreign Minister Lord Goldsmith has reacted with joy to Express.co.uk revelations that the the UK is “sympathetic” to recognising a vital African country.
Pressure is mounting on the UK government “to do the right thing” and recognise former British Protectorate Somaliland to help tackle the escalating crisis in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
The latest senior politician to add his voice is Conservative former foreign minister Lord Goldsmith who posted a reaction to revelations from Express.co.uk that Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron is “sympathetic” to the idea.
Goldsmith posted: “I couldn’t be happier to see this. I so hope it is true. Somaliland is one of the most exciting countries in the world.
“Against all the odds, it is a peaceful, democratic, prosperous and wonderful country with some of the best people in the world. How they managed to do this, despite being surrounded by terror and chaos is really nothing short of miraculous.
“The day will come when Somaliland is formally recognised, and when it is, a light will be switched on whose glow will be felt across the world.”
He was reacting to a viral response to articles by Express.co.uk on Somaliland with momentum gathering for formal recognition.
Somaliland was a UK protectorate that became the 17th African country to be given full independence on June 26 1960 but within days it united with Somalia. However, after years of persecution and ethnic tensions, Somaliland declared independence in 1991 using its original boundaries as the British protectorate but has not been officially recognised for 33 years.
Now a breakthrough may have happened with a Memorandum of Understanding with Ethiopia which has become the first major African state to give Somaliland recognition.
Supporters of Somaliland’s case have pointed out that it is a stable and peaceful democracy, with an excellent record on women’s rights. Meanwhile, Somalia, which lays claim to Somaliland has become a failed state and haven for piracy and terrorists.
With its port Berbera on the Gulf of Arden and near the Red Sea, Somaliland is a strategically vital place to tackle the Houthi attacks on shipping in the world’s busiest trade lane which has seen both the UK and US drawn into action.
The campaign in the UK has been spearheaded by former Defence Secretary Sir Gavin Williamson, who held the recent meeting with Lord Cameron.
He told Express.co.uk: “If we do not seize this opportunity others will, and we will lose out on an ally in enormously strategic place who has immensely goodwill towards the UK.”
Sir Gavin was recently accompanied in a trip to Somalia with another senior MP, former Attorney General Sir Michael Ellis.
Writing for Express.co.uk: Sir Michael said: “The West needs all the friends it can get in a time of worrying instability in the world and here is a friend looking to help the West in a region where such allies are few and far between.
“It is in the UK’s strategic and economic interests to recognise Somaliland- but it would also be the morally right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, the issue has also been raised in the Commons by Conservative Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford.
He said: “Somaliland, a relative haven of democracy, freedom, and education in an otherwise unstable region, has been seeking recognition for a third of a century.
“The UK’s position is that regional recognition must come before international recognition and Somaliland recently signed MOU with Ethiopia is the first step on that road.
“The UK must not wait any longer and take advantage of our unique diplomatic position as the UN Penholder to formally recognise Somaliland and continue our legacy of supporting democracies the world over.”