Saudi Arabia spent a jaw-dropping amount indulging Boris Johnson just days before Khashoggi’s murder

Boris Johnson
Emily Apple

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.

Pathetic excuses

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.

The Saudi regime‘s bombardment of Yemen is indiscriminately killing civilians and children. And the UN is warning that Yemen is facing the “world’s worst famine in 100 years”.

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:

Journalist Kevin Maguire also commented on Johnson’s support for arms sales:

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:

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.

Get Involved!

Support CAAT and take action against the arms trade.

– Ask Theresa May and your MP to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

– See more articles on Saudi Arabia at The Canary Global. And join The Canary so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via Flickr/Chatham House

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Emily Apple