Arms Exports

The Government takes its defence export responsibilities extremely seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case-by-case basis against Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria by the Department for International Trade. 

These strict criteria take account of all prevailing circumstances at the time of application and includes human rights and international humanitarian law considerations.

The Government does not, therefore, issue export licences where there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, or where the export would provoke or prolong conflict.

These conditions do not preclude the Government from issuing licences to countries engaged in protracted or intermittent conflict, however. In some instances, countries are still technically at war without being engaged in active conflict. In others, conflicts will have flash points but otherwise be in a state of peaceful stability or detente.
I am confident that by adhering to the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, the Government will continue to ensure that the UK exports its arms responsibly and with consideration of how they will or might be used.

Saudi Arabia

In relation to Saudi Arabia, I have received a number of campaign letters alleging that "the Court of Appeals found British arms sales to Saudi Arabia... were unlawful", and that implore me to call on the relevant ministers to "immediately cancel all arms licences with Saudi Arabia and launch a public inquiry".

This is simply wrong. The court judgement neither implies nor declares any such thing. The judgement found in the Government's favour on two out of three grounds of appeal, and the finding with which the Government disagrees relates to the process used to reach decisions (i.e. in assessing a pattern of behaviour on humanitarian grounds where information is incomplete or unobtainable). The judgement offers no legal opinion on the lawfulness of the UK's arms exports to any country.

For more information, please see the Secretary of State's (for International Trade) statement of 20th June 2019.

On the other point, which does not follow, cancelling arms licences or engaging in blanket arms export embargoes would not resolve any situation, let alone that on the Arabian Peninsula.