Johnson: Allies may “tighten the economic screw” on Venezuela

Boris Johnson has warned that the UK and its allies "may have to tighten the economic screw on Venezuela" following the re-election of the country's President Nicolas Maduro.

The foreign secretary, who is in South America for a G20 meeting, said the "obviously rigged" election had been "neither free nor fair", adding that he would be talking to his equivalents about appropriate responses.

Johnson told reporters: "The feeling I get from talking to my counterparts is that they see no alternative to economic pressure and it's very sad because obviously the downside of sanctions is that they can affect the population that you don't want to suffer

"But in the end, as one politician in this area said, things have got to get worse before they get better – and we may have to tighten the economic screw on Venezuela."

The US has already imposed its own set of sanctions banning the US purchase of any debts or accounts receivables owed to the socialist government and state-run oil company PDVSA, to prevent members of the government "lining their own pockets".

“The United States stands with democratic nations in support of the Venezuelan people and will take swift economic and diplomatic actions to support the restoration of their democracy,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“Until the Maduro regime restores a democratic path in Venezuela through free, fair, and transparent elections, the government faces isolation from the international community.”

Turnout at the election was just 46 per cent, the election board said, almost half of the 80 per cent registered at the last vote in 2013.

Johnson has also slammed Labour for its stance, after shadow chancellor John McDonnell refused to condemn the country, insisting it had "taken a wrong turn" after Hugo Chavez died in failing to properly implement his socialist policies.

The Uxbridge MP said: “Its striking that youve got the Labour opposition refusing to condemn Maduro but lining up to denounce the visit of our closest, most trusted, most important ally.

“It is beyond satire, it is a paradox.”

He added: "I remain deeply concerned by the man-made humanitarian and economic crisis, which is growing worse by the day. I urge the Venezuelan government to take immediate action and let the international community deliver essential food and medicines.

"The suffering of ordinary Venezuelan people cannot be allowed to continue."

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