Local councillors call on government to stop arms exports from Brighton factory

Destroyed house in the South of Sana'a
Support us and go ad-free

Brighton arms company EDO MBM has come under intense criticism after a UN report revealed that it manufactured weapons components used in a 2016 Saudi attack on Yemen that ‘violated international humanitarian law’. And now, 33 Brighton and Hove councillors, along with local Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, have written to defence secretary Ben Wallace.

“Targeting of civilian infrastructure”

The letter reads:

As you will know, the targeting of civilian infrastructure that has no dual use for military purpose is a war crime.

We are therefore extremely concerned that the Government has issued a licence for a weapon that has been used illegally.

The letter was signed by Green, Labour, and Conservative councillors. And it goes on to request that the government suspend the issuing of export licenses to EDO MBM:

We therefore call on you to suspend all extant licences (OIELs) which EDO MBM and other companies used in this case and fully investigate this matter.

If the information is found to be correct, we request that you revoke licenses used by EDO MBM and its partners to sell weapons parts and arms.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The initiative for writing the joint letter came from Labour council leader Nancy Platts, who has previously said:

I wish that the EDO MBM factory was not based in Brighton or anywhere in the UK for that matter as I am personally opposed to the UK arms trade, however that is outside our powers as a local authority.

“The terrible war in Yemen has been made possible by arms companies like EDO”

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade told The Canary:

The terrible war in Yemen has been made possible by arms companies like EDO, who have consistently put their profits ahead of the rights and lives of people in Yemen. All of the evidence suggests that these weapons have been used in air strikes that have hit civillian targets and violated international humanitarian law. Brighton Council is right to take a stand against this, now it is time for the Government to act by ending its uncritical political support for the Saudi regime and the crisis it has inflicted on Yemen.

Long-term campaign

The current anger about Brighton’s EDO MBM factory comes after over 15 years of protests and direct action by residents of Brighton calling for the factory to be closed. EDO MBM, which is owned by L3 Harris, doesn’t only supply weapons to Saudi Arabia. It also sells weapons to the US and UK armed forces, as well as applying to export arms to Turkey.

In 2009, activists broke into the EDO MBM factory, destroying computers and machinery. They were later acquitted because they had acted with the intention of preventing war crimes being carried out by the Israeli military in Gaza with the help of EDO MBM’s equipment.

Call to revoke planning decision

Brighton Against the Arms Trade (BAAT) has called on the council to revoke a recent planning application for an extension of the EDO MBM factory. A council spokesperson has maintained that the council is “unable to reverse a planning decision”.

A BAAT member told The Canary that a broad coalition of groups are now working together to campaign against EDO MBM. This coalition includes Brighton Against Borders, Brighton Kurdistan Solidarity, Brighton and Hove Labour Left Alliance, Brighton Quakers, Brighton and Hove Amnesty, Sussex University Climate Justice Network, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Plans are underway for a demonstration outside EDO MBM’s factory in Brighton on 6 November.

Featured image via Ibrahem Qasim/Wikimedia Commons

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

Tom Anderson is part of the Shoal Collective, a cooperative producing writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism. Twitter: @shoalcollective

  • Follow Brighton Against the Arms Trade, or email them at [email protected]
  • Join the demonstration against EDO MBM on 6 November.
  • Watch the film about the campaign against EDO MBM
  • BAAT has told The Canary that it would like its supporters to comment on Brighton and Hove City Council’s tweet about their letter to Ben Wallace.


We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. The United Nations has identified the wonderful balmy summer seaside town of Brighton, albeit with the charred remains of a once elegant Victorian erected seaside pier now sadly looking like a load of pig iron dumped off shore or the aftermath of some war remains. But, wait for it – not now (Brighton) is one of the UK’s greenest and gayest coastal resorts (the Green Party prevails in this most excepting domiciled sanctuary for LGBT citizens) and as a last haven for the retired. This epitome of a ‘fun of the fair’ summer seagull squawking, ice cream and candy floss seaside town harbours, not just rowboats, piles of deck chairs and fish ‘n chip shops – it harbours a bomb making factory would you believe in ‘barmy bomb making Brighton’ where components are manufactured for Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemeni citizens? What sacrilege to Brighton and its cheeky-postcard kiosks that we all thought Brighton was ever green, gay and smothered in suncream – that Brighton sells bombs real bombs not just seaside party poppers?

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.