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British Indian Ocean Territory

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 12 December 2023

3. What recent discussions he has had with his counterpart in Mauritius on the negotiations on the sovereignty of the British Indian Ocean Territory. (900591)

The Foreign Secretary has not yet had a chance to meet his Mauritian counterpart. However, the Prime Minister met the Mauritian Prime Minister at the G20 in September to assess the state of negotiations. They welcomed the progress made and agreed to meet again soon.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but in my 18 years of loyal service as a Conservative Member of Parliament, I have never been more disappointed, alarmed and angry about the conduct of the Foreign Office. In this matter, it is negotiating in a neocolonialistic way with Mauritius—an entity that is over 2,000 km away from the British Indian Ocean Territory—without consulting the indigenous people, the Chagossians, whom we expelled in 1968 to make way for an American air force base. The time has come for us to respect the right of self-determination and ensure that the Chagossians are allowed to return to the British Indian Ocean Territory, and for them to decide the future of those islands, rather than handing them to the Chinese client and puppet state of Mauritius, which would be highly counterintuitive to our AUKUS commitments.

The UK has been working in close co-operation with the US since negotiations began in November 2022, and it supports our approach. The UK, the US and Mauritius have all made clear that protecting the base on Diego Garcia, including by preventing foreign malign influence, is a top priority. We will ensure that any agreement achieves that. It is in our national interest and that of our partners, and it is vital for regional and global security.

The Government are preparing to disregard international law with their Rwanda Bill today. They seem to continue to want to disregard international law in the case of decisions handed down by the International Court of Justice and other international bodies with regard to the Chagos islands. If the UK Government will not live up to their international obligations and the findings of international bodies, how with any credibility can they ask other countries to do the same?

We are working closely with the relevant Government—with Mauritius, as I have said—to take forward those negotiations. They are being taken forward in good faith, notwithstanding the need to protect our national, regional and global interests at the same time.