Theresa May defended the sale of British weapons to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, brushing aside the conclusions of a leaked parliamentary report calling for an immediate end to arms sales.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a war by proxy in Yemen, between the Sunni government and Shia rebels.
On Wednesday the Committees on Arms Export Controls leaked a draft report claiming that it is likely British weapons are used to violate international humanitarian law in Yemen. “The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia,” reads the report according to BBC’s Newsnight.
The report calls for an immediate halt of arms sales pending an independent inquiry. But Theresa May defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia insisting close ties to the kingdom “keep people on the streets of Britain safe.” The British PM was alluding to anti-terrorist cooperation.
The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, called on the Prime Minister to adhere to the recommendations of the Committee and halt the “humanitarian devastation” of the Saudi-led coalition. The call is echoed by international NGOs such Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Save the Children, who are also calling for an international investigation by the UN Human Rights Council.
Foreign Secretary Borish Johnson said on Monday that Britain should continue to supply Saudi Arabia with weapons. Current British arms sales to Saudi are worth £3.3bn (€3,9 bn) in drones, helicopters, bombs, missiles, grenades, and countermeasures. And there is an additional half a billion euros contract for armoured vehicles and tanks.