David Cameron has repeatedly refused to explain why the British government agreed to a “squalid” deal with Saudi Arabia, as the country prepares to behead and crucify a teenager for engaging in pro-democracy protests during the Arab Spring.
In an excruciating interview with Channel 4’s Jon Snow, the Prime Minister floundered for a response when questioned on the recently exposed secret deal with the Saudis to allow both nations’ election to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013.
“This sounds a bit squalid for one of the most human rights abusing regimes on earth,” Mr Snow comments.
The PM claimed he would attempt to personally raise the case of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a 17-year-old teenager arrested when he was 14 who faces the death penalty, but only if there was an “opportunity” with Saudi authorities.
"We oppose the death penalty anywhere and everywhere in all our international contacts," Mr Cameron added.
Asked three times by Mr Snow why – if Mr Cameron “completely disagreed” with the repressive state over their “punishment routines” as he claimed earlier – the UK had agreed to the deal with the Saudi government the PM claimed: “Well, I’ve answered the question.”
“Well, that isn’t an answer is it? I mean we have done a horrid deal,” Mr Snow responds.
Finally, the Conservative leader claimed it was because the British government has “a relationship with Saudi Arabia.”
David Cameron's biggest controversies
David Cameron's biggest controversies
A book released by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft alleged that an MP and Oxford contemporary of David Cameron had allegedly seen a photograph of Mr Cameron performing a sex act on a pig while at university. Downing Street did not comment on the allegations and the peer said they could have been a case of mistaken identity
David Hartley/REX Shutterstock
2/8 ‘Swarm’ of migrants
In July 2015 David Cameron referred to refugees coming into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa as a “swarm”. He was criticised for using the language, which critics said was dehumanising
3/8 Child tax credits
In April 2015 David Cameron was asked whether he’d cut child tax credits. “No, I don’t want to do that,” he said, saying that he rejected reports that he would. Shortly after the election the Government unveiled cuts to child tax credits
4/8 Cycling to work
As leader of the opposition David Cameron was regularly photographed cycling to work. In early 2006 he was photographed cycling but with a driver in a car carrying his belongings. It was suggested at the time the cycling was just for show and that having two vehicles on the road instead of one was wasteful
5/8 Andy Coulson
David Cameron employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as government communications director from 2010. After stepping down from the post due to coverage of the phone hacking affairs, Mr Coulson was later found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemails. He served a short prison sentence
6/8 His personal windmill
Early in his leadership of the Conservative David Cameron made an effort to change the party’s image by making eco-friendly gesures. As one of these gestures, the future PM put a wind turbine on his house. However, the turbine later had to be removed after neighbours condemned it as an eyesore and the council’s planning committee said it had been put in the wrong place
7/8 Funeral selfie
David Cameron was pictured posing for a ‘selfie’ with Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Some in the press criticised the prime minister for showing in an inappropriately low level of respect for the gravity of the occasion
8/8 Eating a hotdog with a knife and fork
The Prime Minister was pictured eating a hotdog with a knife and fork in the run up to the 2015 general election. He was accused of being “posh”. “I had a very privileged upbringing... I've never tried to hide that,” he said
“It’s because we receive from them important intelligence and security information that keeps us safe," Mr Cameron said.
"The reason we have the relationship is our own national security. There was one occasion since I’ve been prime minister where a bomb that would have potentially blown up over Britain was stopped because of intelligence we got from Saudi Arabia.”
“Of course it would be easier for me to come on your programme and say: ‘I’m not having anything to do with these people, it’s all terribly difficult etcetera etcetera.’ For me, Britain’s national security and our people’s security comes first,” he added.
Wikileaks released documents this week purporting to show the UK and Saudi Arabia supported each nation’s election the UN Human Rights Council in 2013. Both countries were later elected to the 47-member council until 2016.
Human rights organisation have decried Saudi authorities decision to kill Mr al-Nimr, with Amnesty International describing the teenager’s trial as unfair and “deeply flawed.”