British Prime Minister David Cameron has lauded his government's efforts in selling fighter jets manufactured by BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia.
“I can see the planes being built right behind me here. We’ve got more work to do in Saudi Arabia. The Germans have done a lot of work as well. It is a collaborative project. We use the collective skills but also the collaborative muscles of all the governments to try and help make sure we can sell them around the world”, Cameron noted while visiting the firm’s factory in Preston on Thursday.
“With the Typhoon there is an alliance of countries: the Italians, Germans and ourselves. We spend a lot of time trying to work out who is best placed to win these export orders”, Cameron said when asked by a BAE employee how he was helping boost exports of the Eurofighter.
The British government has been participating in efforts to sell the Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia, which has spent £3bn on UK aircraft, arms and other military kit in the last year alone.
However, London has recently faced harsh international condemnations over its weapon sales to Riyadh which has been pounding Yemen for almost a year now. While the United Nations has criticized Saudi bombing of Yemen, the European parliament has now voted for an arms embargo on the country over its bombardment of the impoverished Arab nation.
A resolution calling for a ban on all weapons sales to the country was passed by 359 votes to 212, with 31 MEPs abstaining.The vote does not force EU member states to comply but it increases pressure on national governments to re-examine their relationships with Riyadh.
Figures reported by the Independent in January showed British arms firms cashing in on the conflict, with sales of bombs and missiles to the autocratic regime surging from £9 million to £1 billion in just three months last year.
The government must approve all arms exports by UK companies abroad. Overall UK licenses granted to military equipment to the country are £6.7 billion since David Cameron took office in 2010 and £2.8 billion since the bombing of Yemen began.