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May fails to promise halt of arms sales to Saudi Arabia

THERESA MAY failed to promise an end to British arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi when called on to do so during Prime Minister’s questions today.

She said that the government “condemns the killing … in the strongest possible terms” but fell short of confirming that she would follow the example of Germany by stopping the sale of weapons and surveillance equipment to the Saudi regime.

Turkish officials say Mr Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 by a 15-man Saudi hit squad that included a member of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage.

Saudi officials claim that the Saudi journalist, whose work appeared in the Washington Post, died in a fight in the consulate, an account which Ms May and her government have acknowledged is not credible.

While she and home Secretary Sajid Javid have promised to revoke the visas of those suspected of involvement, opposition parties have called for an immediate end to arms sales to the kingdom.

Following Prime Minister’s questions, a Labour spokesman said that investment in manufacturing and skills would “more than offset” any potential job losses resulting from supplies of military equipment being cut off.

“There is a clear responsibility on the British government to take decisive action in relation not only to the murder in Istanbul but also the conduct of the Yemen war,” he added.

The steps taken by the government “do not go far enough in response to this action and the wide mass abuse of human rights by the Saudi dictatorship.”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said during question time that the killing had “all the hallmarks of being a premeditated murder” and urged Ms May to follow Germany in announcing it would not approve new arms sales.

He added: “That is moral leadership. The UK government must take decisive action. Words of condemnation will not do.”

Ms May had pledged to speak to King Salman today, adding that Mr Javid was “taking action against all suspects to prevent them entering the UK.

“If these individuals currently have visas, those visas will be revoked today,” she told MPs.

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