Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia

20th June 2019

Andrew Mitchell calls for breaches of international humanitarian law in the Yemen conflict to be investigated by the UN.

I have some sympathy with the position that my right hon. Friend has set out the Dispatch Box today. He will recall that I have had, to say the least, the most profound reservations over the past three or four years about the Government’s policy in respect of what is happening in Yemen. However, he will also know that I have never called for an arms embargo for the simple reason that it would have little humanitarian impact. Does he appreciate that the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, said in his judgment today that the Government

“made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so”.

That is the crux of the matter that is before the House today.

I say to my right hon. Friend and to the other members of the Government Front Bench that they should listen more carefully to what Parliament has said consistently in almost every debate on this matter over the past three years. As recently as Tuesday, there was a Westminster Hall debate marking the 70th anniversary of the arrangements that were made in respect of international humanitarian law. After all these investigations of breaches of international humanitarian law, the argument has been that it is wrong for Britain and one side of the conflict to mark their own homework. It is essential that such breaches are looked at by an accepted and impartial international force, such as the UN. If the Government had heeded the warnings from the House of Commons, they would not be in the position that they are in today.



Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP speaking in the House of Commons, 20 June 2019