Saudi Arabia has paid for nearly a dozen Tory MPs to fly out and visit on ‘fact-finding missions’ this year

The MPs’ visits marks the intensification of lobbying by the petro-state

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia steps off his plane
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia steps off his plane

The Saudi Arabian government has paid for nearly a dozen Conservative MPs to fly out to visit the country this year so far, official records reveal.

The latest version of MPs’ register of interests show 11 MPs have registered “parliamentary fact-finding” visits paid for by the Saudi Arabian ministry of Foreign Affairs.

All the MPs to accept the trips and to so far register them are Conservatives. One, Sir Alan Duncan, is the chair of the House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee.

The trips, which included hotel accommodation and flights, are each worth between around £1,500 and £3,700, according to the register of interests.

They come amid accusations by the United Nations and international charities that Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes in its bombing campaign in Yemen.

Civilian targets hit by Saudi Arabian bombs include multiple international hospitals operated by Doctors Without Borders, schools, and weddings.

The House of Commons International Development Committee recommended an arms embargo against the country last month, but the Government has so far ignored these concerns.

There is no sign of British Government support for Saudi Arabia abating, with new figures out yesterday showing ministers issued over 120 military export licences to the country since the bombing began, worth £2.8 billion.

With the Government only having a slim majority, Tory backbenchers’ views on Saudi Arabia could be key in any crunch votes that might see action taken against the Kingdom.

Last month the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon himself paid a low-key visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met with Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz, the mastermind of the country’s internal repression policies.

The MPs gifted the trips visited the country in two waves, the first for four days in mid-February and the second for four days in early April.

MPs are legally required to declare any donations they receive over a certain cost limit, including paid trips.

The MPs listed as having received paid-for visits to the the country are Edward Argar, Rehman Chisti, Sir Alan Duncan, Sir Edward Garnier, David Jones, Kwasi Kwarteng, David Mackintosh, Mark Pawsey, Royston Smith, Martin Vickers, and Helen Whately.

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