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Boris Johnson's government 'has licensed £2.8 billion in arms sales to human rights abusers'

THE government has licensed £2.8 billion worth of arms to human rights abusers since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, damning new analysis has found.

Since July 2019, the government has given the green light to the sale of billions of pounds’ worth of arms to repressive regimes. 

The Scottish Greens compared government arms export data from the time period with a list of countries ranked as “not free” by Freedom House, a US-government-funded human rights monitoring group.

By far the largest buyer of British arms is Saudi Arabia, which accounts for £1.7bn worth of the value of arms licensed.

Other nations include Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. 

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen, using British-made fighter jets, bombs and missiles. 

The Court of Appeal ruled in 2019 that these arms sales were approved illegally. Sales resumed in 2020 following a decision by the then international trade secretary Liz Truss. 

The decision to renew arms sales is currently subject to a High Court review.

Qatar has bought £391 million worth of arms, including ammunition, components for combat aircraft and sniper rifles. 

Military combat vehicles, as well as sniper and assault rifles worth £347m have been sold to the UAE, while Egypt has spent £106m on British-made aircraft parts, ammunition and sniper rifles. 

The Turkish government has purchased £77m worth of arms, including components for military combat vehicles, components for combat helicopters and components for surface-to-surface missiles since July 2019. 

The Scottish Greens said the continued approach of allowing these sales by British government ministers was completely unacceptable. 

The party’s external affairs spokesperson Ross Greer MSP said: “Boris Johnson may act like a clown on the world stage, but the arms sales that his government has approved have done a great deal of damage.

“Arms dealers profit from delivering death, destruction and misery across the world. But they couldn’t do it without the complicity and support of arms-dealing governments like the UK.

“UK-made weapons are playing an instrumental role in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen. It has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, but that has done nothing to halt the arms sales.

“As the death toll continues to rise, it is simply unacceptable that Boris Johnson and his colleagues are willing to allow and even promote this state-sanctioned murder.

“With independence we can take a different path and build a fairer, greener Scotland that stands up for human rights rather than one that arms human rights abusers and cosies up to dictatorships.”

A spokeswoman for the Westminster government said: “The UK takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world. 

“We rigorously examine each export licence application on a case-by-case basis and will not issue any export licences that do not meet strict criteria.”

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