UK PM sitting on report into foreign funding of 'extremism'

#Diplomacy

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Theresa May of 'cosying up' to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud receives British Prime Minister Theresa May on 5 April, 2017 (AFP)
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Tuesday 4 July 2017 11:39 UTC
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Critics have accused UK Prime Minister Theresa May of delaying publication of a report into the foreign funding of "extremism" due to potentially incriminating evidence about Saudi Arabia.

In written answers to Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, the Home Office and Downing Street confirmed that a report had been produced into foreign funding of "extremism" following a commission by previous prime minister David Cameron in 2015 - but not released.

'To defeat terror it’s vital that politicians have full view of the facts, even if they are inconvenient for the government' 

Caroline Lucas, co-leader, Green Party

Home Office minister Sarah Newton said: “The review into the funding of Islamist extremism in the UK was commissioned by the former prime minister and reported to the home secretary and the prime minister in 2016.

“The review has improved the government’s understanding of the nature, scale and sources of funding for Islamist extremism in the UK. Publication of the review is a decision for the prime minister.”

Lucas said the publication delay was "astonishing" in the wake of a number of attacks in the UK claimed by the Islamic State group, and said it “leaves question marks over whether their decision is influenced by our diplomatic ties.

“To defeat terror it’s vital that politicians have full view of the facts, even if they are inconvenient for the government,” she told the Guardian.

UK sells arms to Saudi

May has deepened ties between the UK and Riyadh, visiting the kingdom after the triggering the Brexit process for the UK to leave the European Union.

The UK has licensed about £3.3bn ($4.3) of weapons to the kingdom since March 2015, when Saudi Arabia began a bombing campaign in Yemen which has been widely criticised for creating a humanitarian crisis in the country.

More than 10,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations. An outbreak of cholera has killed at least 1,500 and infected more than 200,000, while 18 million face famine.

'We hear regularly about the Saudi arms deals or ministers going to Riyadh to kowtow before their royal family, but yet, our government won’t release a report that will clearly criticise Saudi Arabia'

- Tim Farron, leader, Liberal Democrats

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the Conservatives had made a promise to publish the report by spring 2016, as part of a deal made with his party when they were in power together before the 2015 election gave the Conservatives a majority government.

However, both Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have indicated that the contents of the report may never be made public.

“We hear regularly about the Saudi arms deals or ministers going to Riyadh to kowtow before their royal family, but yet our government won’t release a report that will clearly criticise Saudi Arabia," said Farron, according to the Guardian.

“All this government seems to care about is cosying up to one of the most extreme, nasty and oppressive regimes in the world. You would think our security would be more important, but it appears not. For that Theresa May should be ashamed of herself.”