This week there has been no Parliamentary debates which enables people like me who spend a bit of time trying to follow what happens each week to look in a bit more detail in the days before the holiday break. So on Monday 8th February there was this debate on Yemen and as we will see in a few seconds the last time this debate took place was September which is deeply disturbing. On top of that some MPs can make the odd remark which simply makes them appear a bit silly. So most of what Tim Loughton from West Worthing and Shoreham had to say was very useful. However he opened up his comment with these few words “It is extraordinary that there has still been no mention of the malign influence of Iran in this whole tragic situation” and of course it is possible to raise such matters but it is not as important as the rest of what he said that I have repeated below along with the response from the Minister who was participating in the debate, James Cleverly. The other Sussex MP who took part was Lloyd Russell-Moyle and his comment and Cleverly’s response is also included in their fullness. His comment about our lack of funds is of course nonsense as we have made a lot of profit from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia who have been one of the major contributors to the Yemen battle.
TL: The humanitarian crisis has got far worse since we last debated the situation in Yemen back in September, with 2 million children now out of school, half of all medical facilities having been destroyed and at least one child dying every 10 minutes, as we have heard. Will the Minister undertake that, at the pledging conference in March, the UK will maintain its very generous aid towards Yemen and perhaps work with partners to see how we can make vaccines available in the battle against covid, which is just one of many battles that that country faces at this time?
JC: My hon. Friend makes a very important point about the UK’s contribution in Yemen. As I have said, we have contributed £1 billion since the conflict started. He will know that the official development assistance budget will be constrained because of the economic situation brought about by coronavirus. He also made the very important point that cash is not the only way that the UK is supporting people in Yemen. We have worked with our international partners to try to pursue peace. He also mentioned vaccinations in response to the coronavirus. I am very proud of the leading role that the United Kingdom took in working with international partners to raise funds to roll out vaccinations to those countries that were unable to do so, and I have no doubt that the UK will continue to be a leading player in the equitable and global distribution of vaccinations, as they are manufactured.
And here is the question from Lloyd Russell-Moyle whose response from Cleverly deeply disturbing and it pretends that the nations failures are not a problem.
LR-M: This is a complex conflict, on which any sensible Government would not take sides. There is clearly evil on all sides, and the Houthis are some of the worst of all of them. But the UK has repeatedly sided with Saudi Arabia, its coalition partners and even its proxy terrorist group, al-Qaeda in Yemen. The Government have been found guilty by British courts of illegally approving arms sales, and even broke UK court orders to prevent further arms sales last year and had to apologise to the courts. Surely now is the right time to stop the rhetoric and mistruths that we have the strongest arms control in the world—we do not—and to follow the US lead, stop British complicity, stop the arms licences being approved, and revoke those that continue to be extant. Will the Minister just do the right thing?
JC: The hon. Gentleman’s comments equate the activities of regional players as equal—I am sorry, but it is almost beyond credible. His deployment of the word “evil” betrays his prejudices, rather than any flaw in UK Government policy. We will continue to pursue peace in the region and to support humanitarian efforts until that peace is brought about
We need to challenge the Government and James Cleverly for making such a response!