Charlotte Leslie: From Bristol MP to Saudi Arabia’s Advocate

Charlotte Leslie is a British Conservative Party politician. She was the MP for the Bristol North West constituency, failing her seat at the 2017 general election. Currently, she is the director of the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC). The council prefers Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia, and received funds from Gulf states.  Based on her Political career, she has leanings toward Saudi Arabia.

Leslie strongly supported the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to the UK by writing favourable writings about the conservative kingdom during Mohammad bin Salman’s visit in 2018. One piece she corresponded for the Daily Telegraph in 2017 was named: “‘I’ve met Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince. He’s a revolutionary.” “Saudi Arabia is changing much faster than we in the West realise.”

For several months, Leslie also chaired the Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Saudi Arabia. In 2016, she received a food hamper from the Saudi Arabia embassy in London. The former MP calculated the value of the gift to be approximately £500 and accordingly stated it in the Register of Members’ Interests.

In April 2017, she was also part of 5-day representatives of 7 cross-party MPs to Saudi Arabia. Travel and accommodation expenditures were paid for by the Kingdom to “strengthen British-Saudi Arabian diplomatic relations.”  The Shura Council—King Salman of Saudi Arabia’s advisory board—granted  £6722 for a visit to strengthen diplomatic relations. On this trip, Charlotte interacted with the Saudi Parliamentary ‘Friendship Committee’ to enhance bilateral cooperation and coordination. 

Moreover, CMEC is a pro-Gulf organisation. In December 2014, the CMEC organised a discussion and invited Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief from 1977 to 2001 and an ambassador for the kingdom, to deliver the group’s Annual Policy Lecture. Further, There are assumptions that it favours Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE, while also receiving funds and cooperation from those close to these governments.

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