Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has met with a senior Tory MP to discuss the formal recognition of Somaliland as the Red Sea crisis escalates.

By David Maddox, Political Editor

Lord Cameron has had discussions about the UK seizing a historic opportunity to help tackle the Red Sea crisis with the Houthi terrorists.

It has come as the government is coming under pressure to end a 33-year diplomatic impasse and recognize the state of Somaliland, a former British protectorate which is claimed by neighboring Somalia.


The Daily Express has learnt that Lord Cameron has sat down with former Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, who has been a champion of the Somaliland cause as the Houthi crisis in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden has intensified.

Houthi terrorist attacks on shipping have threatened one of the world’s biggest trade routes and both the UK and US have been firing on Houthi targets in response.

Sir Gavin told the Daily Express that “there is enormous sympathy” for the recognition of Somaliland, but “that now needs to translate into something positive.”

Lord Cameron 'Sympathetic' To Making Surprise Diplomatic Move To Fix Red Sea Houthi Crisis
Sir Gavin Williamson has been a champion of Somaliland since he was Defense Secretary (Image: Getty)

He warned: “If we do not seize this opportunity, others will, and we will lose out on an ally in an enormously strategic place who has immensely goodwill towards the UK.”

Sir Gavin has just returned from Somaliland with former Attorney General Sir Michael Ellis who has written for the Daily Express today, pushing the case for recognition.

As the former colonial power, the UK is the “pen holder” at the United Nations for the fate of Somaliland and could influence its international recognition as well.

Sir Michael Ellis said: “The West needs all the friends it can get in a time of worrying instability in the world, and here is a friend looking to help the West in a region where such allies are few and far between.

“It is in the UK’s strategic and economic interests to recognize Somaliland- but it would also

Lord Cameron 'Sympathetic' To Making Surprise Diplomatic Move To Fix Red Sea Houthi Crisis
Somalilanders celebrating in London (Image: Getty)

Somaliland, which has maintained close ties with the UK, is, unlike Somalia, a functioning, peaceful democracy.

The country has a coastline on the Horn of Africa of 531 miles, close to the current problems with the Houthis in Yemen.

It has a major port Berbera which is a key haven for shipping, a significant important export point for East Africa, and a potential location to base UK and US warships.

In 1960 it was the twelfth African country to be made independent but within days united with Somalia.

Lord Cameron 'Sympathetic' To Making Surprise Diplomatic Move To Fix Red Sea Houthi Crisis
Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has met with a senior Tory MP to discuss the formal recognition of a Somaliland as the Red Sea crisis escalates. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

After civil war and persecution, Somaliland became independent again in 1991 but has never officially been recognized, even though Somalia has been described as “a failed state” and has been a base for pirates and terrorists.

Recently the possibility of wider international recognition was opened when Ethiopia agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding with Somaliland.

Sir Gavin said: “I think there was always a desire for an African country to recognize Somaliland first because of our colonial past and a wish not be accused of interfering with African politics.”

Rother Valley Tory MP Alexander Stafford has raised the issue with the Prime Minister in Parliament.

He told the Daily Express: “The UK must not wait any longer and take advantage of our unique diplomatic position as the UN Penholder to formally recognize Somaliland and continue our legacy of supporting democracies the world over.”

About Lord Cameron

David CameronDavid Cameron was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs on November 13, 2023. He was elevated to the House of Lords on November 20, 2023, as Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton. He was previously Prime Minister from May 2010 until July 2016. David led a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government from 2010 until 2015 and continued as Prime Minister from May 2015, leading a Conservative government. He was the Conservative MP for Witney in West Oxfordshire from 2001 to 2016.