David Cameron defends arms sales trip to Gulf

The prime minister has defended sales of military equipment to Gulf states, after arriving in the Middle East to promote the sale of British-made fighter jets.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The prime minister said: ‘We have one of the strictest regimes anywhere in the world for sales of defence equipment but we do believe that countries have a right to self-defence and we do believe that Britain has important defence industries that employ over 300,000 people so that sort of business is completely legitimate and right.’

The PM’s trip has attracted some criticism from some who believe he uses his foreign visits to broker defence equipment deals with countries that have questionable records on human rights. 

But, speaking in Dubai today, Cameron added: ‘On human rights, there are no ‘no-go’ areas in this relationship. We discuss all of these things but we also show respect and friendship to a very old ally and partner.’

During this latest trip, the PM is hoping to flog around 100 Typhoon jets to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia. His comments today are pretty unusual, as historically PMs have not usually spoken so openly about military hardware contracts.

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