Boris Johnson 'licensed £1.2 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia'

By agency reporter
July 29, 2019

Government statistics show that during his tenure as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson approved £1.2 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This included £270 million worth of ML10 licences (aircraft etc) and £880 million worth of ML4 licences (bombs and missiles etc).

Arms export licence applications are formally the decision of the Secretary of State for International Trade. However, following the start of the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen this was changed for arms exports to the Saudi-led coalition for use in the war. According to Government documents written at the time: "The Foreign Secretary is thus given an opportunity to comment on all such applications. In respect of particularly sensitive or finely balanced applications the Foreign Secretary is specifically requested to give a decision."

A recent Freedom of Information request found that in August 2016, Johnson signed off on the transfer of bombs only two days after Saudi forces had destroyed a food factory killing 14 people. The following day the Saudi Air Force bombed a school killing 10 children. Two months later, Saudi forces bombed a funeral killing 140 people. In the weeks that followed, Johnson signed another arms transfer for bombs.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "During his tenure as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson approved hundreds of millions of pounds worth of arms sales to the brutal Saudi regime. These weapons have played a central role in creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

"Unfortunately, despite the atrocities that have been inflicted on Yemen, there is no reason to believe that Johnson has changed his mind. All of the signs suggest that as PM he will continue to offer his uncritical political and military support to some of the most abusive dictatorships in the world.

"Johnson may present himself as a jovial joker, but the arms sales he supported have had devastating consequences. It is time for new thinking from Downing Street, not the same failed policies that have done so much damage and cost so many lives."

* Campaign Against Arms Trade https://www.caat.org.uk/

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