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Calls for Liz Truss to resign after revealing Saudi arms ban

PUBLISHED: 21:38 26 September 2019 | UPDATED: 21:38 26 September 2019

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss. Picture: Ian Burt

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss. Picture: Ian Burt

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MP Liz Truss is facing calls to resign from her international trade secretary post after she revealed further military export licence breaches connected to Saudi Arabia and the Yemen conflict.

The MP for South West Norfolk told fellow MPs an internal review of all licences granted for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners since June 20 is ongoing, but has so far identified one further breach of an undertaking given to the Court of Appeal.

She added a review of the composition of the coalition has identified a licence breach of a commitment given to Parliament.

Ms Truss said it is "possible that more cases will come to light" after announcing an independent investigation has been commissioned.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) said the breach of the court undertaking related to a licence for the repair of military equipment, in particular counter-IED equipment, adding the licence was never used and has been revoked.

The breach of the parliamentary commitment related to a licence for the export of fuel gauges for Jordanian military aircraft. The licence was initially granted in 2016 but was incorrectly extended and has now been revoked.

Earlier this month, the Government apologised to the Court of Appeal for two "inadvertent" breaches of an assurance it would not licence any more arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which could be used in the conflict in Yemen.

It was announced in June that the issuing of new licences for military exports to the Middle Eastern country would be suspended.

The pause came while the Government considered the court's ruling that it had failed to assess whether the Saudi-led coalition had violated international humanitarian law in the course of the Yemen conflict.

Responding to an urgent question in the Commons, Ms Truss explained details relating to the two initial breaches and told MPs it appeared "information pertaining to the conflict had not been fully shared across Government".

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Explaining the new information which has emerged, Ms Truss said: "As a result of the internal review so far, we have identified one further licence that has been granted in breach of the undertaking given to the

"This licence has not been used and has now been revoked.

"My officials are also carrying out an urgent review of the composition of the coalition.

"This has identified a further licence which is in breach of the parliamentary statement.

"We have reassessed the licence in light of the latest information and subsequently revoked it insofar as it applies to Jordan."

She added: "My officials are continuing to review all the information relating to licences granted to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners since June 20 2019.

"We will be open and transparent with the courts and Parliament as to any new information that emerges."

Ms Truss added: "It is possible that more cases will come to light."

SNP MP Chris Law (Dundee West) said it was a "shocking revelation that two further export licences would be breaking the law and further may yet be discovered".

Mr Law called for the Government to rescind the "unlawfully granted export licences, adding: "Does she take full responsibility for her department's unlawful award of arms export licences in contravention of the court of appeal and therefore will she do the right thing and resign?"

Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, called for an "immediate embargo" on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the wider coalition.

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