Labour Seeks to Block Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia

Labour Seeks to Block Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia
Labour Seeks to Block Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia
Labour Party has signalled it is looking at new measures to ensure British-built weapons and military technology are not bought by repressive regimes around the world.

It comes as the party plans its general election manifesto and following uproar at the government’s backing for billions of pounds worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Jeremy Corbyn’s push for a more ethical exports policy comes just days after Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, praised a UK firm that sold missiles to Col. Gaddafi as a “role model” for post-Brexit trade.

Barry Gardiner, the shadow International Trade Secretary, hinted at the new arms measures as he discussed how the party is preparing a broader strategy aimed at exploiting trade opportunities abroad to boost industries at home.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent he said a prime example of the approach would be a push for the abolition of tariffs on environmental technology, like wind turbines and solar panels in future trade deals, to pave the way for thousands of UK jobs.

Gardiner was speaking as Labour prepares its manifesto for the general election.

The prime minister has talked a lot about boosting trade after Brexit, but campaigners have raised concerns that her desire to secure any new trade has led to a drop in ethical standards.

The government has recently approved £3.5bn worth of arms export licences to Saudi Arabia and a stream of British ministers have visited the kingdom to solicit trade despite its ongoing involvement in a brutal bombing campaign in Yemen.

Asked whether action on arms sales to repressive regimes would be tackled in Labour’s manifesto, Gardiner said he could not discuss details ahead of its official publication, but went on: “Our party has always pledged to embed human rights and social justice into our trade policy.

The leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has said the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen amounts to an invasion, Al Jazeera reports.  In an exclusive interview, he also condemned the demand by four Arab states to shut down Al Jazeera.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on it on June 5.

After more than two weeks, the four Arab countries gave Doha a 10-day ultimatum to comply with a 13-point demand list in exchange for the end of the anti-Qatar measures. The list includes the closure of Al Jazeera.

Corbyn has called for an international investigation in the UAE’s secret prisons in Yemen where detainees and those kidnapped are being tortured. His call came after reports by human rights organisations and media outlets detailing the use of electric shock and beatings inside those prisons in Yemen.

Corbyn said that the states which violate human rights or kill civilians should not continue to acquire British weapons.

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