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Delegation from Morocco engage on defence, trade and continuing cooperation

BGIPU was delighted to host a delegation from Morocco from 19 until 24 February 2024. The visit was led by the Honourable Mr. Mohamed Sabbari, First Deputy-Speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives, and also included the Honourable Mr. Mohamed Joudar, Fifth Deputy-Speaker, the Honourable Mrs. Nadia Touhami, Sixth Deputy-Speaker, the Honourable Mrs. Zaina Idhali, Eighth Deputy-Speaker, the Honourable Mr. Abdelaziz Lachehab, Quaestor (a finance role in Parliament), and the Honourable Mrs. Ilham Saki, Parliamentary Clerk. The visit also benefitted from the support of the Ambassador H.E. Hakim Hajoui and Political Counsellor Mohammed Sidali.

The visit started with an introduction to Parliament and the Westminster Parliamentary System by Edward Beale, Clerk of the Interparliamentary Relations Office. This was followed by a meeting with The Rt Hon Nigel Evans MP, Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, during which they discussed topics such as energy and trade, and the future of interparliamentary relations between Morocco and the UK. After that, the delegation had a tour of the Palace of Westminster given by Tim Loughton MP before attending a working lunch hosted by The Rt Hon Dame Karen Bradley DBE MP, BGIPU Chair.

In the afternoon, the delegation had a meeting on business and trade with Rob Butler MP, Trade Envoy to Morocco, and Laurence Robertson MP, Chairman of the Westminster Africa Business Group. They then met with The Rt Hon Ms Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Select Committee on Standards. This was an opportunity to exchange on practices in the two Parliaments. After that, the group headed to the FCDO for a meeting with Lord Ahmad, Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, United Nations and the Commonwealth. Both parties highlighted the strong relationship between Morocco and the UK and how to strengthen it even further. The delegation used this occasion to thank the UK for their support in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake in Morocco in September 2023. Other topics of discussion included trade, energy, education, and culture.

During their second day in Parliament, the delegation started with a meeting with The Rt Hon Dr Andrew Murrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Defence People and Families) during which they exchanged views and concerns on the war between Israel and Gaza. They then had a meeting with Members of the APPG for Morocco, followed by a meeting with Stephen Twigg, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Morocco is currently applying to obtain a special – and new – status of observer within the organisation. In the afternoon, they met with Women in Parliament and representatives of the Muslim Women’s Network. They talked about Women’s rights and about how Morocco is currently revising its family code. The day ended with a meeting with Peers for the Planet during which Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project was at the centre of the discussion.

On Wednesday 21 February, the day started with a meeting with Lord Gardiner, Senior Deputy Speaker. The delegates used this opportunity to ask questions about the House of Lords. The group then attended a session of Prime Minister’s Questions which generated many questions for our members who attended the working lunch on that day. After lunch, the delegates met with Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Both parties reiterated the importance of Morocco’s partnership with WFD. They discussed current programmes and shared ideas for future ones. The day ended with a meeting on interfaith dialogues, chaired by Jim Shannon MP. This was a good opportunity to follow up on discussions started during the IPU Interfaith Conference held in Marrakech in June 2023.

The delegation spent the last two days of its visit in Oxford. This was an opportunity to visit Oxford’s Centre for Islamic Studies, where they met with the Director but also with some Moroccan PhD students. After lunch, Dr Mike Spivey, Vice-Provost and College Fellow of Oriel College, gave a tour of the college to the delegation. The group then headed to the Provost’s Lodgings where they met with Lady Mendoza, College Fellows and students. During their time in Oxford, the delegates also had a chance to meet with Anneliese Dodds MP and the Lord Mayor of Oxford – Councillor Lubna Arshad.

The visit was a great success and served to strengthen the already very close ties between our parliaments, with a commitment on both sides to carry on this important exchange through our respective friendship groups.

BGIPU Secretariat