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Minister said ‘sorry’ after Commons Turkey debate

Tobias Ellwood offered the government's response to last month's Turkey debate, which Joan Ryan branded 'disappointing'

Joan Ryan says FCO minister Tobias Ellwood apologised to her for his ‘disappointing’ debate response on Turkey last month

Theresa May is failing to show leadership on accusations of human rights abuses and electoral fraud in Turkey, Joan Ryan has said.

In her interview with Haber this week, she said Britain’s government was “not using the power and influence that it has” over the country, despite an extensive range of trade and defence contracts.

“When you give leadership you do actually have to say something. People do have to hear what your position is,” she told Haber.

“But we give no indication whatsoever of concern about any of the huge violations in human rights [and] the measures that have quite seriously threatened and undermined parliamentary democracy.”

Ms Ryan led a parliamentary debate last month on human rights abuses in Turkey in which she said many expatriates in the UK were fearful of going home.

Delivering the UK government’s official response during the debate, parliamentary undersecretary Tobias Ellwood said they “regularly emphasise the need for Turkey to meet its international obligations” and added: “We regularly highlight the role that freedom of expression and freedom of the media play in supporting democracy.”

But his remarks stopped short of direct criticism of Turkey, prompting criticism from Ms Ryan.

“You heard me say ‘that is a most disappointing response, that’s not good enough’,” she told Haber.

“He said, ‘it’s not my area and this is the response on behalf of the government.’ If that’s what a minister saying to me, they’re not using their leverage.”