Given the recent Court of Appeal’s verdict that the UK Government’s granting of licences for the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia was ‘unlawful’, I challenged the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox MP, on the issue in Parliament today.
According to the Department for International Trade, the UK exported arms and equipment worth at least £1bn to Saudi Arabia last year. Since the Saudi-led war in Yemen began in 2015, UK arms exporters have earned over £4.6bn from sales to the regime. The impact of the Government’s disregard for humanitarian checks and balances in its arms exports has had a direct human cost by enabling a regime that the UN has said is directly responsible for tens of thousands of civilian casualties.
I am pleased the Secretary of State has said no new licences will be issued while the Government reviews the ruling and its implications but, given what we know about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, I am very disappointed that the Government is refusing to acknowledge the international evidence available already. We need to stop the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia once and for all. It really does seem that they are putting profit before people’s lives.