Death of Jamal Khashoggi

Part of October EU Council – in the House of Commons at 6:33 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 6:33 pm, 22nd October 2018

Indeed there is. I spoke to David Miliband about this when I was in New York for the UN General Assembly—perhaps that name is not supposed to be mentioned any more on the other side of the House. I urge the right hon. Lady to recognise that the faults in the crisis in Yemen go both ways. Saudi has made terrible mistakes, but missiles are also being fired from Yemen into Saudi—in fact, seven missiles have been fired at Riyadh—and the Saudi coalition is acting under the authority of UN resolution 2216.

Owing to our relationship with Saudi, we are able to press them hard to embrace a political solution, and that is what I did when I met the Saudi Foreign Minister on 27 September. I spoke to him about this on 16 August. I also met the Emirati Foreign Minister on 6 and 27 September to make that point. We are able to have that influence precisely because we have a relationship, but if we took the actions that the right hon. Lady suggests, our influence with Saudi and Emirates would be precisely zero, and the humanitarian crisis would most likely last longer.

The right hon. Lady talked about arms sales. The procedures we follow in this country, as she well knows, are among the strictest in the world. They were introduced by the late Robin Cook in 2000 and strengthened under the Conservative-led coalition in 2014. Far from selling arms left, right and centre, we do not sell to a number of large markets such as China and we do not sell to friendly Governments such as Lebanon, Libya and Iraq. In July 2017, the High Court ruled that our sales to Saudi Arabia were compliant with those regulations, but we keep the situation constantly under review, and that will include any implications that arise from the results of the Kashoggi investigation.

We are consistent in our championing of human rights across the world, but when I wanted to take action against Russia for the first ever chemical weapons attack on British soil, I was told by the Leader of the Opposition not to take action—action that was later supported by our European friends—but to return to dialogue. The difference between this side of the House and that side is not what we believe in, it is how we get there. It is our belief that British influence depends on British strength.