Following calls from leaders of four political groups in the European Parliament urging the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, for an EU-wide ban of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Green parliamentarians including Bristol's Green MEP Molly Scott Cato have written to the UK Prime Minister urging her to “immediately suspend all arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the human rights of the people of Yemen can be fully guaranteed”.
Molly Scott Cato MEP has also launched a petition through Avaaz calling on “the UK Government to live up to our shared European values and support an EU-wide suspension of arms exports to Saudi Arabia”.
Commenting, Molly Scott Cato, MEP for the South West and the Green Party's speaker on Brexit, said:
“The pressure is mounting on the UK to end its sales of arms to Saudi Arabia. Politicians and the public are increasingly looking on with horror at what is happening in Yemen with British arms. We are appalled that the UK government would turn a blind eye to this in order to put profit before basic principles. There is a growing human cost to the conflict in Yemen and history will judge this government poorly if they drag their feet in suspending the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. They can and they must act now.”
Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East, added:
"While the EU is pushing to curb arms sales to Saudi Arabi, the UK Defence Secretary is telling politicians 'it's unhelpful' to keep highlighting the regime's war crimes and human rights' abuses because it might damage our ability to sell deadly weapons to as many dangerous dictators as possible. It cannot be right that the UK Government is only concerned with the profit margins of arms dealers and not the real and harrowing cost of the human suffering they are facilitating. It is unforgivable."
Jean Lambert, MEP for London, concluded:
"It’s horrifying that the UK Defence Secretary would ask elected representatives not to criticise his dodgy deals with Saudi Arabia so he can secure yet another fighter jet deal. Perhaps he hasn’t noticed the 2.5 million people who have lost their homes in Yemen as a result of this weaponry? Or the 683 children who have lost their lives in 2016 as a direct result of the Saudi-led air coalition? It’s time for the UK to stop facilitating this callous regime which shows disdain for basic human rights."