Boris Johnson has claimed it is ‘absolute fiction’ that he is unable to stand up to Donald Trump.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Johnson of prioritising a trade deal with the United States over standing up to president Donald Trump.
Corbyn used Prime Minister’s Questions to ask: “Isn’t the truth, Mr Speaker, that this Prime Minister is unable to stand up to president Trump because he has hitched his wagon to a trade deal with the United States and that prioritises everything else that he ought to be considering?”
But Johnson denied this was the case – instead criticising Corbyn for not condemning the activities of General Qassem Soleimani.
He said: “This is absolute fiction. But what I will say is that the UK will continue to work for de-escalation in the region.
“But he should be in absolutely no doubt, and this is of course a leader of the Opposition who famously received £10,000 from the Iranian Press TV, he should be in absolutely no doubt that we are determined to guarantee with everything that we can the safety and the security of the people of Iraq – whereas he, of course, would disband Nato.”
He continued: “I’m very surprised, at the end of these exchanges, that he is yet to condemn the activities of Qassem Soleimani.”
Answering a question from Corbyn about the legality of the drone strike that killed the Iranian general, the PM said the US had the right to defend its bases.
“Clearly the strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine since it was not our operation,” said the PM.
“But I think most reasonable people would accept that the United States has the right to protect its bases and its personnel.”
The PM said Soleimani had supplied “improvised explosive devices to terrorists, which I’m afraid killed and maimed British troops”.
He added he opposed any further escalation of violence and told MPs: “As far as we can tell there were no casualties last night sustained by the US and no British personnel were injured in the attacks.
“We are doing everything we can to protect UK interests in the region, with HMS Defender and HMS Montrose operating in an enhanced state of readiness to protect shipping in the Gulf.”