Boris Johnson's attack on Saudi Arabia risks making UK no better than Russia, says Labour MP

The UK's close ties with Saudi Arabia means the Foreign Secretary's comments are a threat to the UK's reputation, Yemeni-born Keith Vaz said

Tom Peck
Monday 12 December 2016 19:52
Labour MP Keith Vaz
Labour MP Keith Vaz

The UK’s international reputation has been put at risk by the Foreign Secretary’s claims that Saudi Arabia is "puppeteering" in "proxy war" in Yemen, according to Yemeni-born Labour MP Keith Vaz.

In an urgent question in the House of Commons, Mr Vaz argued that, given the UK’s links with Saudi Arabia, criticisms of that country’s conduct in Yemen undermined the UK’s capacity to, for example, criticise Russia’s intervention in Syria.

Mr Vaz said: "Until now our foreign policy objectives in Yemen have been crystal clear - pursuing a cessation of hostilities and backing a UN-mandated intervention.

"Last week the Foreign Secretary was absolutely right to speak of his profound concern for the Yemeni people and correct to say that this conflict cannot be solved by force alone.

"However, his words also revealed an inconsistency in our foreign policy which if not addressed immediately threatens to wreck everything we're trying to accomplish.

"Please confirm that we would never be involved in any puppeteering or proxy wars anywhere in the world, including in Yemen."

But junior Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood rejected the comparison with Russia and Syria. "They are supporting a brutal regime which has used chemical weapons on its own people and barrel bombs as well, and actually compounded the situation," he said. "So the two cannot be compared in any like whatsoever."

Mr Ellwood said the conflice could not be won, "by military means alone."

"We need a long-term political solution to a country that has been fragmented... going back to its start,” he added.

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