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Johnson approved £1.2bn worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia when foreign secretary

PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson approved £1.2 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia during his time as foreign secretary.

This figure includes £880 million worth of ML4 licences for bombs, grenades and missiles and £270m worth of ML10 licences for aircraft, helicopters and drones, government statistics show.

The International Trade Secretary is formally the decision-maker for arms export licence applications, but since the start of the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, the foreign secretary has been allowed to comment on licence applications.

A government document written at the time adds: “In respect of particularly sensitive or finely balanced applications, the Foreign Secretary is specifically requested to give a decision.”

Mr Johnson signed off the transfer of bombs only two days after Saudi forces had killed 14 people in a potato factory in the Yemeni capital Sana’a in August 2016, according to documents obtained via a freedom of information request.

Two months later, Saudi forces killed 140 people by bombing a funeral. In the weeks that followed, Mr Johnson signed another arms transfer for bombs.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade, which highlighted the statistics, said: “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.”

Mr Johnson continued his Cabinet reshuffle today after being made PM on Wednesday.

During his leadership campaign, he aired his plans for tax-haven “free ports” on Britain’s shores – which the EU criticised this week as being “potentially vulnerable to money-laundering or terrorism financing.”

Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd said: “These are tax-free warehouses used to hoard art, wine and gold – and the best-known ones are in tax havens like Luxembourg, Geneva and Delaware.
 
“Boris Johnson’s Cabinet of the super-rich, for the super-rich, wants to turn this country into a tax haven – as payback for Tory funders and their mates.

“Labour will challenge this tax-dodging agenda every step of the way.”

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