Aid should be withheld from countries that fail to protect Christians, Westminster MP says

Britain should “turn the taps off” on aid to countries that fail to protect their Christian populations from persecution, a former trade minister has said.

During a Commons debate on Christian persecution, Tory Sir Edward Leigh singled out the Nigerian government and said it should be “held to account” for growing levels of targeting of worshippers and churches in parts of the country.

He added: “How are we helping when we are sending hundreds of millions of pounds to Governments that completely fail to protect their Christian citizens?

Earlier in the debate, shadow Foreign Office minister Fabian Hamilton questioned whether Britain should be beholden to countries that abuse religious groups for trade deals.

Mr Hamilton also asked for confirmation on whether the Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary has ever raised the persecution of Christian minorities within China with the authorities there.

Labour MP Lyn Brown (West Ham) said: “The protection of these rights needs to be at the heart of UK foreign policy.

“We need to do everything possible to ensure that people have the right to pursue their beliefs without fear.