The government department to which Theresa May dedicated six years has now hung her out to dry. Pressed by the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas over the delayed extremism report, the Home Office laid the blame for stalling it firmly at the Prime Minister’s feet.
Lucas recently submitted a written question to the Home Office over the delayed report. Commissioned by May’s predecessor David Cameron, the report focuses on foreign funding of extremism in the UK. Following the string of terrorist attacks in 2017, many called for its immediate publication.
Lucas asked the Home Office whether it would place a copy of the report in the House of Commons library. The department replied:
The review into the funding of Islamist extremism in the UK was commissioned by the former Prime Minister and reported to the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister in 2016. The review has improved the Government’s understanding of the nature, scale and sources of funding for Islamist extremism in the UK.
Publication of the review is a decision for the Prime Minister.
After the Home Office informed Lucas that responsibility for the report’s publication lay squarely with the Prime Minister, she also wrote to May asking the same question. May said that her office was:
considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to parliament with an update in due course.
Not good enough
But Lucas said the delay is “astonishing”. Because the government has yet to “give any reason” for “sitting on this report”. Lucas has now called on Downing Street to reveal the advice that is leading to its delay. The Brighton Pavilion MP also claimed that the government’s decision to withhold the report:
leaves question marks over whether their decision is influenced by our diplomatic ties.
Many suspect that Saudi Arabia features heavily in the report. May has maintained close relations with the regime while it continues to be a lucrative arms market for the UK. Britain recently approved £3.5bn worth of arms sales to the country.
Furthermore, Conservative MPs have been caught taking nearly £100,000 in gifts, trips and fees from Saudi Arabia.
Delaying the inevitable
Current Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson both struggled to plead Saudi Arabia’s innocence in the run-up to the 2017 general election. And they floundered for good reason.
As WikiLeaks revealed in a leaked cable, the US government privately admitted that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”. WikiLeaks also published a cable that showed Hillary Clinton believed the Saudi government was giving “clandestine financial and logistic support” to Daesh (Isis/Isil) and other extremist groups as early as 2014.
Starving extremist groups of funds is a logical way of trying to limit their reach. But while Labour has vowed to “get serious” about cutting off funding to terrorist networks, May is suppressing the publication of a report that would help us do so.
No wonder the Home Office has left her out to dry.
– Read more Canary articles on Saudi Arabia.
– Write to your MP asking them to demand the publication of the report.
Featured image via Teacher Dude/Flickr