Iran erupted in a fresh frenzy of animosity towards its old imperial foe on Sunday as MPs chanting “death to England” voted to expel Britain’s ambassador to Tehran and threatened his mission with a reprise of the 1979 hostage crisis.
By Adrian Blomfield, Middle East Correspondent
6:38PM GMT 27 Nov 2011
Dominic Chilcott, who took up the position of ambassador just a month ago, could be forced to leave the country within weeks after a motion to downgrade Iran’s diplomatic ties with Britain was passed overwhelmingly by the Islamist republic’s parliament.
The step was taken after Britain, Canada and the United States announced fresh sanctions against Iran last week in the wake of a report by UN weapons inspectors which provided the most compelling case yet that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Britain was singled out, however, after it became the first state to impose direct sanctions on Iran’s central bank. Financial institutions in the City were also banned from doing business with their Iranian counterparts.
Despite pressure from Israel, Washington has baulked at following suit, arguing that such a step would cause deep financial pain for ordinary Iranians and could cause the price of oil to soar. If its central bank faced widespread international sanctions, Iran would find it virtually impossible to import and export oil, food and other commodities except on the black market.
It is the first time in the UK’s postwar history that Britain has imposed a total boycott on the entire banking industry of a foreign state.