"Our next Prime Minister will decide on Chagos return" Foreign Secretary Hammond
The question of Chagossian return was raised in Parliament today, as UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed that "it will now fall to the next Prime Minister to make a decision [on whether to back Chagossian return]."
Mr Hammond was responding to SNP MP Alan Brown's question, asked Mr Hammond to advise the new Prime Minister of the recent Supreme Court verdict which stated it may be "irrational, unreasonable or disproportionate" to deny Chagossians the right to return. Mr Brown has been a supporter of Chagossian exiles since his election in 2015 and serves as Secretary for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Chagos Islands.
In his answer, the Foreign Secretary added that "the current Prime Minister [David Cameron] has taken a great interest in this issue." It has been reported Mr Cameron was supportive of beginning a resettlement programme but senior cabinet colleagues had been resistant.
In any case, it will now be the next Prime Minister Theresa May who is charged with delivering a return decision. The Government-commissioned feasibility report, which indicated that return could be a success, reported a year and a half ago. A Government consultation with the Chagossian community, which indicated mass support for return, concluded ten months ago. The change of Prime Minister should be no cause for delay.
"Theresa May will become the 10th Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to preside over the continuation of Chagossian exile. She should take the chance to make history and finally support a fair return programme," commented UK Chagos Support Association Committee Chair Stefan Donnelly
"All the evidence is there that return can be a success, and with the renewal of the UK-US agreement on the use of the Chagos Islands coming up, this is the perfect time to help Chagossians-British citizens-achieve their simple ambition of living in their homeland."
Mrs May has no public record of commenting on the Chagos Islands or Chagossians issues, but UK Chagos Support Association and the whole Chagossian community will be happy to work with her to ensure the right outcome for the Chagossian people is reached.