Today, (July 23rd), a row erupted across the political spectrum concerning the British government's decision to not block the death penalty for a pair of British IS-affiliated terrorists. Sajid Javid, the UK Home Secretary, has departed from the long-held tradition of Britain's blanket ban against the death penalty by writing an explosive letter to the US attorney general making it clear that the UK would not block the execution of the infamous 'Beatles' terrorist pair.

The letter, which has evoked outraged responses from civil liberties and human rights groups, was leaked to The Telegraph and states that the UK would not seek 'assurances' over the sentences which the pair will receive when they are tried in the United States.

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'The Beatles' British IS pair

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh both come from West London and counted as half of the four-member terrorist cell dubbed 'The Beatles'. They became widely known throughout the media for allegedly executing, torturing and keeping Western hostages in Syria where they were later captured in January this year.

The Guardian noted that controversy over the trial of these two British IS terrorists has been raised before after the pair complained that they would not receive fair judicial proceedings because the UK government had stripped them of their British citizenship. However, relatives of those who were executed by the duo have called for them to receive reciprocal punishments, with the daughter of David Haines (the British aid worker who was beheaded in Syria) stating that they should face a 'slow, painful death'.

Explosive row over the British Government's death penalty decision

Visceral opposition over Sajid Javid's decision to abandon Britain's opposition to the death penalty has been heard from across the political spectrum. Labour's shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, has shown outrage over the contents of the leaked letter, arguing that the Home Secretary was essentially urging for 'this grave human rights abuse'.

Interestingly, Theresa May's office has refrained from giving explicit support to Sajid Javid's decision and has said that the UK retains its opposition to capital punishment yet would not be drawn into saying how this stance fits with Britain requiring no 'assurances' over the terrorists' sentences.

The notion of imposing the death penalty was also opposed by Diane Foley mother of James, an American journalist who was also executed by the terrorist cell. The BBC reported that Ms. Foley has expressed that she was "very against" capital punishment for the pair in case it made them martyrs in the view of other Islamic extremists. In addition, Amnesty International has called the move "deeply worrying", whilst Conservative MP Heidi Allen and Labour MP Clive Lewis have both expressed that they were "uncomfortable" with the Home Secretary's stance on the BBC's Daily Politics Program. This displays how opposition has been shared across the whole political spectrum rather than being an issue of any singular political viewpoint.