The Home Office has said it might not publish an inquiry into the funding of extremist groups because it might focus too much on Saudi Arabia; a country which the government has recently approved for £3.5bn worth of arms export licences. This makes a mockery of the Conservatives’ claims to care about security, suggesting once again that they’re much more interested in making a profit than saving lives.
Launched by David Cameron in 2015, the inquiry in question was supposed to look at how extremist groups in the UK were being funded. It was a deal with the Lib Dems in return for them supporting airstrikes in Syria. This was when Theresa May was still Home Secretary. But now, the Home Office has said the report might not be published as it contains “very sensitive” information.
Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake wrote to May about the report:
It is no secret that Saudi Arabia in particular provides funding to hundreds of mosques in the UK, espousing a very hardline Wahhabist interpretation of Islam. It is often in these institutions that British extremism takes root.
But May has close links with Saudi Arabia. She defended her trip there in April 2017, claiming she would bring up human rights abuses. But those human rights abuses haven’t stopped her government allowing arms dealers to profit from billions of pounds worth of deals.
But it’s good for business
This was essentially the message that Amber Rudd gave when she stood in for Theresa May at the BBC debate on 31 May. Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas asked Rudd:
Why is Britain the second biggest arms dealer in the world? (Applause)
Why are we selling to 22 of the 30 countries on the government’s own human rights watch list? Why did we make ten times more in arms sales to Saudi Arabia than we gave to Yemen in aid? I genuinely wonder how you sleep at night knowing those figures.
And Rudd’s answer said it all:
We will make sure that our defence budget is well funded. We will do that by having a strong economy. And we will have to make sure that we can do that by having a strong industry.
Hiding this report away because it could damage arms sales shows just how little the Conservatives care about preventing terrorism and protecting ordinary people. May would much rather see multinational companies make huge profits from death and destruction than release a report that might shed light on where funding for extremism is coming from.
The Conservative government has made the world a more dangerous place. And we need to remember this. When we’re alone in the voting booth on 8 June, we need to think about whether we’d rather have a government that represses reports so they don’t upset human rights abusers, or a leader who wants to end arms sales to repressive regimes and believes that trying to foster peace is better than bombing other countries.
Selling arms and bombing hasn’t worked so far. How about we give the alternative a go?
– Vote on 8 June! And encourage others to do the same.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– See more Canary articles on Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the arms trade, the 2017 general election, and the BBCdebate.
– Support The Canary if you value the work we do.
Featured image via Flickr