Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has slammed Prime Minister Boris Johnson for saying that he might send British troops to Saudi Arabia in the confrontation with Iran.
“It really does beggar belief,” Corbyn told his party’s conference in Brighton yesterday, “that this week Boris Johnson is openly talking about sending troops to Saudi Arabia as part of the increasingly very dangerous confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, in an apparent bid to appease Donald Trump. Have we learnt nothing?”
The Labour leader’s speech was brought forward by 24 hours following the Supreme Court ruling in London that Johnson’s proroguing of parliament was unlawful. Members of Parliament are due to resume their sitting in Westminster at 11.30 this morning.
Criticising British foreign policy for repeatedly making the “wrong call” on military intervention in the Middle East, Corbyn said that it spreads conflicts, rather than settles them. A Labour government, he insisted, would make sure that Britain would be a force for international justice and peace.
“Real security doesn’t come from belligerent posturing or reckless military interventions. It comes from international cooperation and diplomacy, and addressing the root causes of the threats we all face.” The foreign policy of a Labour government, he explained, will be defined by the party’s commitment to human rights and international justice, not enthusiasm for foreign wars that fuel – rather than combat – terrorism and insecurity.
Corbyn also blamed the “wrong-headed” international interventions in part on the rise in Islamophobia witnessed in Britain. He condemned Johnson for his “letterbox” comments about Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab, after which instances of Islamophobic attacks rose by 375 per cent.
“When Boris Johnson compared Muslim women to letterboxes or bank robbers,” he pointed out, “it wasn’t a flippant comment, it was calculated to play on people’s fears. Displays of racism, Islamophobia or anti-Semitism are not signs of strength, but of weakness.”
Corbyn has been a fierce critic of the military interventionist policies of previous governments and has voted consistently against intervention, including air strikes on Libya, Iraq, and Syria.