A shadow Home Office minister has criticised Donald Trump's administration for imposing economic sanctions on socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Labour's Chris Williamson, who won back his Derby North seat at the 2017 general election, said the US's move "clearly can't be right" because of the Latin American nation's financial turmoil, which has seen hyper-inflation rates of 800%.
"Clearly they've made mistakes, they didn't do enough to diversify the economy," he told BBC Two's Newsnight show. "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 street."
He added: "What was the situation like in Venezuela before Hugo Chavez [Maduro's predecessor] came to power? It was a chaotic, terrible inequality in that country, grotesque poverty."
His comments come just two days after Labour quietly released a press statement urging Maduro to safeguard human rights.
"We mourn all those who have been killed and injured in the protests leading up to this election, and we urge everyone in Venezuela, on all sides, to end the bloodshed immediately," shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes said.
"In particular, we urge the government of Venezuela to recognise its responsibilities to protect human rights, free speech and the rule of law. The outcome of this election cannot be treated as a mandate for a further escalation of repression, division, and violence.
"President Maduro must also respond personally to the legitimate concerns of the international community about the increasingly authoritarian nature of his rule and the growing hardship facing his people.
"If he believes those concerns are misplaced, it is up to him to prove them wrong – not through his words, but through his deeds."
The Venezuelan electorate backed Maduro's plan to create an all-powerful Constituent Assembly, which will be able to overrule the opposition-led National Assembly, in a Sunday 30 July vote.
But the vote was boycotted by opposition parties, who claimed that Maduro would rig the outcome.
More than 100 people have been killed in clashes between anti-government activists and riot police in Caracas, Venezuela's capital, since demonstrations began in April. Jeremy Corbyn, a supporter of Chavez, has remained silent on the issue. But British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has condemned Maduro.
"The dubious Constituent Assembly vote has dramatically deepened the problems and ramped up tensions," he said. "It is time for the government to see sense and start working with the opposition on a way forward that brings the people of Venezuela back together."