London, October 5, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Thanasis Gavos
The support that Cyprus enjoys among the higher echelons of the UK’s Conservative Party has been reaffirmed with the founding of a new Parliamentary Group by the ‘Conservative Friends of Cyprus’.
Tory MPs from across the United Kingdom attended the group launch reception at the House of Commons, with the aim of joining forces in order to promote Cypriot interests, primarily a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.
The head of the group will be a veteran of the Cyprus cause, the MP for Enfield Southgate in north London –the constituency with the most populous Greek Cypriot community in the UK- David Burrowes.
A former head of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus, Mr Burrowes said he was pleased that so many colleagues from across Britain wished “to assist in rising awareness for issues important to the British Cypriot community and to countless others who value the special relationship between the UK and Cyprus.”
Undoubtedly this “special relationship” has been further nurtured during the parallel administrations of Prime Minster Cameron and President Anastasiades, as their recent cordial meeting at Downing Street demonstrated; but the driving force behind it have been the north London MPs who are mainly delegates of the Conservative Party.
Attending the reception were long standing parliamentary supporters of Cyprus including Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers (MP for Chipping Barnet), Mike Freer (MP for Finchley and Golders Green) and Matthew Offord (Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus and MP for Hendon).
Other MPs who attended the event, expressing their desire to join the newly established group, included Byron Davies (MP for Gower), Julian Knight (MP for Solihull), Sheryll Murray (MP for South East Cornwall), Col Bob Stewart (MP for Beckenham), Martin Vickers (MP for Cleethorpes) and Craig Williams (MP for Cardiff North). A considerable number of other parliamentarians, who were unable to attend the reception, also declared their support for this Conservative Party led initiative.
The tireless work of many Conservative MPs in support of their British Cypriot constituents has been producing results. IBNA sources said that during the Number 10 meeting, Mr Cameron made a particular reference to one such MP and told President Anastasiades that Ms Villiers has been quite persistent in reminding him of issues concerning the Cypriot community.
At the same time, the election of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party’s leader position could bring the UK major opposition party even closer to the Cypriot community, as the 66 year old left-winger has also been a long standing friend of Cyprus. Along with some new faces in the Commons, such as north London MPs Catherine West and Kate Osamor, he could potentially strengthen the efforts by other veterans such as Sir Alan Meale to make Cyprus a priority of the British foreign policy.
It is worth noting that even the new Liberal Democrats’ leader Tim Farron has shown a keen interest in getting involved with Cypriots in the UK, having met a delegation from the Fagamusta Association UK in the recent past.
As for the Conservative newly formed group, there are already plans for strengthening the special relationship. One of the first initiatives will be a visit to Cyprus in November, with David Burrowes expressing his optimism that the delegation will assist MPs in “developing an understanding of some of the key issues relating to this important bilateral relationship”.