On 19 September, Boris Johnson took a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia, costing £14,000. Paid for by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the visit included travel, accommodation and food. And it all took place just days before Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Turkey.
According to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, the purpose of the trip was to ‘meet’:
with regional figures to promote education for women and girls.
But in a press release seen by The Canary, Andrew Smith from Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) quickly took apart the claim:
The Saudi regime is not spending money on hospitality for Boris Johnson because it cares about his views on education. It is doing it because it knows that he’s got ambitions for Downing Street and it wants to buy influence.
Supporting arms sales
CAAT also pointed out that:
As Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson supported billions of pounds worth of arms sales to the Saudi military.
UK government statistics show that since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015, the UK has licensed £4.7 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, including:
£2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
£1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures).
And Smith insisted that:
Politicians should not be taking money from authoritarian regimes or dictatorships like the one in Saudi Arabia, which has an appalling human rights record and has inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen.
Obviously, Johnson wouldn’t have known Khashoggi would be murdered after his visit. But he did know about Yemen. As Labour MP Jess Phillips highlighted:
Recently I was asked if a company with links to Saudi could sponsor an event I was involved with, I'm not Boris Johnson so I said no, it was before Khashoggi murder. I said no for women and Yemen. https://t.co/R70vqHkhTN
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) October 31, 2018
Journalist Kevin Maguire also commented on Johnson’s support for arms sales:
Remind me again why the lying toad still champions flogging weapons to a murderous regime: "Saudis treat Boris Johnson to £14k jaunt days before Jamal Khashoggi's murder" https://t.co/u9RCNKqodU
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) October 31, 2018
If that wasn’t enough…
And if taking a £14k trip courtesy of the Saudi government wasn’t enough to make you feel sick, Johnson also took a £50,000 donation from hedge-fund boss Jon Wood to help pay for his office costs. Wood was described by a judge as a:
very hard and calculating man.
As one author stated:
I have to pay my own office costs and I earn a lot less than @BorisJohnson “Separately, Mr Johnson received a £50,000 donation from Jon Wood, founder of hedge fund SRM, to pay for his office and staffing costs” https://t.co/YauwYEGaj0
— Sheila O'Flanagan (@sheilaoflanagan) October 31, 2018
Enough is enough. We cannot and should not accept MPs being wined and dined by murderous regimes. And we cannot and should not accept our country selling billions of pounds of weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia.
– Support CAAT and take action against the arms trade.
Featured image via Flickr/Chatham House