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British MP calls for probe into Saudi influence on British politics

Saudi ad campaign ahead of MBS visit to the UK [File photo]
Saudi ad campaign ahead of MBS visit to the UK [File photo]

A Labour MP has called on the British parliament to carry out an investigation into possible Saudi influence on UK politics.

Speaking at a press conference organised by campaign groups protesting against the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, urged Parliament to commission an investigation similar to the investigation by special Counsel Robert Mueller into UAE meddling in American politics.

As the UK Government welcomes the Saudi Crown Prince’s first official visit to London, Save the Children has unveiled a life-size statue of a child outside Parliament. The bronze-like statue is a reminder of the dangers that Yemeni children face every day and the risks of British-made bombs fuelling the violence [Save The Children]

As the UK Government welcomes the Saudi Crown Prince’s first official visit to London, Save the Children has unveiled a life-size statue of a child outside Parliament. The bronze-like statue is a reminder of the dangers that Yemeni children face every day and the risks of British-made bombs fuelling the violence [Save The Children]

Williamson’s advice to his colleagues in Westminster came during an exchange with journalists over British foreign policy in the Middle East. In his remarks at the press conference the Labour MP spoke of the need for Britain to adopt a more “ethical foreign policy”.

Sitting beside representatives from the various organisations coordinating the protest against bin Salman, Williamson revealed that British arms exports to Riyadh had gone up by 75 per cent while the Kingdom had been embroiled in a devastating war described by the UN as “the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War”.

According to the Labour MP Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of British arms, a trade deal which Williamson says makes the UK complicit in the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. The war has cost the lives of more than 10,000 Yemenis and caused a famine that is threatening millions of others.

Read: UK FM eulogises Bin Salman in lead up to controversial visit

The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is just one of the many reasons protesters are going to come out in force later today to show their disapproval. The blockade against Qatar and political repression in Kingdom are also a cause for concern.

Campaigners say that a government that respects human rights would suspend arms sale to Saudi and demand greater transparency from the industry as a whole instead of “hosting the architect of war in Yemen”.

Journalists pressed the panel to respond to the latest revelation that the UAE had come under investigation by the FBI over undue political influence in US politics. They also mentioned that Saudi’s closest ally had been found linked to efforts to have the US Secretary of State sacked for failing to support the blockade on Qatar.

Williamson suggested that a similar probe led by one of the Select Committee into Saudi influence in the UK would be welcome.

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