26th March 2019

Andrew Mitchell questions the Government on media allegations that British military are involved in operations in Yemen.

The whole House will be grateful for the words of the Minister and the shadow Foreign Secretary about my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt). I have worked with him on international development matters for the last 14 years, and the Government can ill afford to lose such a capable Minister at a time like this.

The welcome change of direction on Yemen that the new Foreign Secretary has ushered in is greatly to be applauded, but there were exceedingly serious, credible and authoritative allegations in the Sunday media that serving British military personnel have been seriously wounded in operations in Yemen. That flies in the face of assurances given from the Dispatch Box on countless occasions, including in emergency debates that you have authorised, Mr Speaker. I tabled a number of questions last night to the Ministry of Defence, and were it not for the all-consuming nature of Brexit, I suspect the House would want to explore this as a matter of urgency.

I thank my right hon. Friend. I know he has a long-standing interest in this issue, not least the humanitarian aspect, from his time as International Development Secretary. He is right; these are very serious allegations, and I am keen that I do not inadvertently give reassurances on the Floor of the House that could turn out not to be the case. We need to have an internal investigation. I will perhaps take this up in writing with him, but I suspect that we will come back to this issue on the Floor of the House before too long.