Emily Thornberry – 2020 Comments on Government Selling Arms to Saudi Arabia

Below is the text of the comments made by Emily Thornberry, the Shadow International Trade Secretary, on 7 July 2020.

Even by this Government’s standards, their decision to resume the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen is morally indefensible, justified on the basis that the air strikes that have killed thousands of innocent men, women and children over the past five years somehow do not represent a ‘pattern of non-compliance’ with international law.

And announcing this decision the very day after 20 Saudi officials were rightly placed on the Foreign Office’s Magnitsky sanctions list for their part in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist killed in part for criticising Saudi conduct in the war in Yemen, is at the very least a case of mixed messages, undermining the government’s claim to be human rights defenders.

We have demanded that ministers come to Parliament to explain this decision, and we will continue to fight it over the coming months. Because at a time when millions of Yemeni children are facing the mortal threat of starvation and disease, Britain should be working flat out to bring this terrible war to an end, not selling the arms that continue to fuel it.