I refer Members to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I congratulate my hon. Friend Charlotte Leslie on obtaining this debate and on her excellent speech.
In the short time available to me, I want to focus on two issues. My right hon. Friend Sir Alan Duncan mentioned stability, which I believe is the key to our relationship with the Gulf states. We must not forget that that relationship is twofold. On the one hand, they have a huge commercial interest in this country, as we have in their countries. For example, Emirates, the UAE airline, is by far the biggest customer for Airbus A380 aircraft, which are manufactured in north Wales. It has been calculated that Emirates’ investment in this country, via its purchase of Airbus aircraft, indirectly accounts for some 7,000 jobs. Our relationship is important and should not be undervalued.
The other issue is security. We have a huge interest in developing our relations with the Gulf states. They are at the sharp end of the battle against Daesh, which is a threat not only to the Gulf nations, but to this country. It is essential that this country develops relations with the Gulf states. When I visited Bahrain a few months ago, I was delighted to see that the British Government are investing in a new naval base there—HMS Juffair—and restoring our naval presence in an important part of the world.
In the few moments available to me, I want to mention the occupants of the other side of the Gulf in Iran, whom we often overlook when considering the Gulf. Iran is undoubtedly a threat to the region’s peace. There is no doubt that it sponsors Hezbollah and the insurgency in Yemen, and is a threat to that region. Another role for the United Kingdom is to ensure that the Gulf states receive our assurances that we will be at their side in the ongoing battle against Iran and its threat to the stability of the region.