Vidya Ram

PM May faces flak for a Briton not making to World Court Bench

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 09, 2018

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May has been criticised for her country’s global isolation   -  REUTERS

Symbolic of UK’s shrinking role in global stage, say Labour, Conservative members

The government of Theresa May faced criticism domestically on Tuesday from both opposition parties as well as members of the ruling Conservative Party following Britain’s failure to win a seat on the International Court of Justice for the first time in the court’s 71- year history.

It comes amid fears around the nation’s loss of international influence at a crucial time for its standing globally as it prepares to exit the European Union.

“Theresa May and Boris Johnson like to proclaim their dream of a “global Britain” but here in the real world, her weak leadership and his repeated gaffes have left our country increasingly isolated and ignored,” said Emily Thornberry, the Labour Party’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.

“While we congratulate our friends in India on maintaining their place on the International Court of Justice, it remains a shocking indictment of Britain’s declining international standing that, for the first time in the history of the court, it will now be without a British judge.”

On Tuesday Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who appeared before the House of Commons alongside other colleagues at the foreign office, faced questions on the issue, including from Conservative MP Robert Jenrick who described the result as a “major failure for British diplomacy.”

Johnson rejected that criticism, insisting that it was the “long standing objective of UK foreign policy to support India in the UN…I will repeat my congratulations to the Indian judge.”

Another MP, from the Scottish National Party, suggested it was the sign of the “sun setting on Empire 2.0,” referring to a phrase that appeared earlier this year in an article in The Times, coined by cynical civil servants but which has come to symbolise what many believe are the unrealistic ambitions of Britain following its exit from the EU to revive its economic clout. The decision by Britain to withdraw from the contest in the face of almost inevitable defeat, paving the way for Judge Dalveer Bhandari’s re-election came on the same day that it was announced that Paris would host the European Banking Authority and Amsterdam would host the European Medicines Agency, following Britain’s exit from the EU.

Critics of Brexit have previously pointed to the loss of these agencies as yet another example of Britain’s loss of influence, as well as potential damage on industry.

Sir Paul Jenkins, who was the British government’s most senior lawyer till 2014, tweeted “Losing the EBA/EMA are inevitable Brexit damage. Losing our ICJ judge is an extraordinary, sad illustration how we are shrivelling on the world stage.”

Published on November 21, 2017

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