Stop Selling Arms to Help Saudi Wage War and Reveal its Links to Extremists, Brits Urges May

Saudi Arabia has been accused of a stronghold of deadly bombings in Yemen AFP/Getty
Saudi Arabia has been accused of a stronghold of deadly bombings in Yemen AFP/Getty
Britain must end arms sales to Saudi Arabia while the country is accused of the large-scale slaughter of civilians in Yemen’s civil war, Theresa May is urged today.

An overwhelming majority of the public believes it is wrong for Britain to supply billions of pounds of weapons to the kingdom, an exclusive poll for The Independent has found.

Most people also want the Government to release a suppressed report into Saudi Arabia’s funding of extremism in Britain, even if it damages relations with the key ally.

The results lay bare the public’s deep unease about Britain’s close relationship with an autocracy embroiled in a devastating war in neighbouring Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition has been accused by the UN and other observers of bombing hospitals, schools and wedding parties, as it seeks to defeat Houthis.

The United Nations has declared the country a “humanitarian catastrophe”, with sanitation systems destroyed and at least 300,000 people infected with cholera.

The opposition to arms sales appears to extend into the Government, with key Tories thought to be arguing privately for weapons sales to be curbed.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £3.3bn worth of arms, including £1.1bn worth of ML4 licences, which relate to bombs, missiles, and other explosives.

Now the poll, by BMG Research, has found only 18 per cent of people support those sales “while the Middle Eastern state is engaged in Yemen’s civil war” – with 58 per cent against.