American sanctions on Venezuela “can’t be right”, insists Corbyn ally Chris Williamson

A leading ally of Jeremy Corbyn has weighed into the row over the Venezuela crisis by criticising the US for imposing sanctions.

Chris Williamson, a shadow home office minister, said it “can’t be right” to apply the punitive measures on the South American nation.

He said it would be better “to facilitate talks” and “encourage the right wing opposition to stop these protests on the streets”.

Williamson, a strongly pro-Corbyn voice in the parliamentary party who returned to the commons to represent Derby North in June, was speaking on BBC’s Newsnight.

Corbyn has come under increasing pressure in recent days to publicly denounce President Maduro’s actions in the country, which has seen two opposition leaders who boycotted an election thrown into military prison. 

They boycotted a controversial recent vote for the constitutional assembly, seen by them as an attempt to subvert the opposition controlled parliament, and a means for the president to strengthen his grip on power in the country.

Several protestors have died in clashes, and many of Venezuela’s citizens are without access to basic goods as hyperinflation takes its toll.

“Clearly it can’t be right, can it — in a situation where there is a massive crisis in Venezuela — to impose sanctions on the country,” Williamson said.

“Surely it would be far better to try and bring the sides together, to facilitate talks and to encourage the right-wing opposition to stop these protests on the streets,” he added.

You can watch part of Williamson’s exchange with Newsnight host Evan Davis here, where he is asked whether his political philosophy is closer to Tony Blair’s or Maduro’s:

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