Sale of Arms: War in Yemen

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:36 pm on 13th July 2020.

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Photo of Chris Law Chris Law Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development) 3:36 pm, 13th July 2020

This UK Government are increasingly chaotic and incoherent. Last week, the Foreign Secretary announced a new sanctions regime, claiming that the UK will be a stronger force for good, while the International Trade Secretary resumed arms sales to Saudi Arabia, demonstrating that profit comes before peace. The international community, our allies and the UN have been clear that the arms trade to Saudi Arabia should be stopped due to the mounting evidence of what UN experts have described as “potential war crimes” and widespread and systematic strikes on civilian targets. Yemen has also been described as “hanging by a thread”, with more than 1 million covid infections.

With the UN ascribing tens of thousands of civilian deaths to the Saudi military, how can the Secretary of State tell the UK with any certainty that there is not a clear risk of serious violations in exporting arms, describing previous violations as merely “isolated incidents”? Can the Minister tell us how many isolated incidents there are? Who collated this evidence? Will he explain why the UK is going against the international community? Surely these actions remove any legitimacy that the UK Government can be a stronger force for good in the world.