Part of Concentrix – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 26th October 2016.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 4:20 pm, 26th October 2016

I will come to the hon. Gentleman’s point in a moment.

Let me conclude my point about the Houthis and the Saleh loyalists. It is very important that the matter is solved politically. The single most important thing they can do is withdraw their forces from Sana’a by agreement with the UN special envoy. That is where our diplomatic energies are currently engaged.

I come to the point that the hon. Gentleman raised, which the hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury also raised. I know that many Members on both sides of the House and people throughout the country have concerns about UK defence sales to Saudi Arabia. Let me say a few words about the general context. Saudi Arabia has been a key strategic and defence partner of the UK for decades, which is of immense value to this country, as Members on both sides of the House have rightly pointed out in this debate.

In the course of her contribution, the hon. Lady substantially retreated, I thought, from the text of the motion before the House in her name. Under questioning from my hon. Friend Sir Gerald Howarth as to whether she would support the immediate suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces, as is specified in the motion in her name, she refused to say that she would. She was very wise. There is a wide measure of agreement, therefore, between our parties. The hon. Lady spoke very wisely about our export control regime and she was exactly right in what she said.