Grant Shapps admits UK discussing shock move in tackling Red Sea crisis

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Defence Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs that he is going to discuss moves with Lord Cameron about a potential important ally in tackling the Houthi terrorists.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps will hold top level meetings in a bid to tackle Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. He told MPs that he will discuss the status of a potential ally in Africa with Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron.

The minister was tackled in the Commons about the former British protectorate of Somaliland which has been operating as a successful independent country for 33 years but is currently unrecognised because neighbouring Somalia claims sovereignty over it.

However, a number of MPs including former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and former Attorney General Sir Michael Ellis have been pressing for recognition of a country which, unlike Somalia, is a stable democracy with a good human rights record and wants to be allies with Britain.

Sir Michael pressed the issue this week in the Commons when Shapps was giving an MPs an update on the Red Sea crisis.

He said: “Has the Defence Secretary considered engaging with the currently unrecognised country of Somaliland? I visited it recently, as the Register of Members’ Financial Interests will show. As it has a border with the gulf of Aden, its port at Berbera might be useful to His Majesty’s Government.”

The Defence Secretary’s response has offered a little bit more hope to Somaliland.

He told Sir Michael: “I know that my right honourable and learned Friend is a big fan of Somaliland. I have visited it myself in the past, and I know that in a difficult environment, they do a very good job — administratively and otherwise — of trying to run their Government. I will take his comments away and confer with the Foreign Secretary.”

Previously, Express.co.uk has revealed that in discussions with Sir Gavin, Lord Cameron said he was “sympathetic” to recognition.

The door for international moves by the UK and US has been opened by Ethiopia in effect recognising Somaliland via a memorandum of understanding so it can have access to its major port.

The issue has infuriated Somalia, but critics point out that while Somaliland is stable and relatively successful, Somalia is currently a failed state and a haven for piracy.