News that the Tory government is betraying its own voters lands at the worst possible time

Theresa May
Tracy Keeling

The Conservative government is betraying the majority of its own voters by continuing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. With the government having to defend its indefensible position on the issue at an emergency debate in parliament, the revelation couldn’t come at a worse time.

Majority rules

YouGov recently carried out a poll for the Save the Children charity. It posed a number of questions to people about UK arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition which has been carrying out a catastrophic bombing campaign in Yemen since 2015. The UK government has approved at least £4.6bn in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since its bloody assault on the country began.

As the Independent reports, YouGov found that a massive 63% of people it polled oppose arms sales to the countries involved. Only 13% of those surveyed agreed with the sales. So, the government is at odds with the majority of the participants on this issue. It gets worse though. The poll also found that 52% of Conservative voters questioned oppose the sales. So, by pressing ahead with them, the government is betraying a majority of its voters who were polled too.

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Righting wrongs

But despite the public opposition to its arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the government does appear very determined to continue them. MPs called an emergency debate about Yemen on 11 September. During the session, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, AKA the government’s Saudi-apologist-in-chief, defended its arms sales. Burt claimed “there was no simple answer to the war in Yemen”. According to Middle East Eye, he also said it is right to arm Saudi Arabia, adding:

We have done all we can to express the concern raised by the house

But many MPs and members of the public don’t want Burt merely to “express” concerns. They want the arms sales to stop so that the UK isn’t complicit in the potential war crimes that Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen. They want the government to dissociate itself and the country from Saudi Arabia’s reckless actions, including an attack on a school bus which killed 40 kids. An attack that even the Saudi-led coalition itself admits was “unjustified”. But the UK government appears unshakeable on the issue because it apparently thinks its arms sales are right.

It couldn’t be more wrong, according to the majority of people in Britain, if this poll is any reflection of the country at large. Surely then, it would be entirely ‘right’ for Britons to tell the current government to jog on, so they can replace it with one that actually represents them.

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Tracy Keeling