Arthur Nicholas Winston Soames, also known as Baron Soames of Fletching, is a UK Conservative Party politician who was the Member of Parliament for Mid Sussex from 1997 to 2019. He was Minister of State for the Armed Forces from 1994 to 1997 in the cabinet of John Major. Further, He is a grandson of former prime minister Winston Churchill.
Lord Soames has extensive experience in the Middle East. He was elected President of the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) in 2007 and previously acted as Chairman from 1997 to 2003. CMEC promotes pro-Saudi ideas within the Tory party and organises delegations of MPs to Saudi and other Gulf states.
Based on his activities and his seat at CMEC, it is indicated that he has tilted towards Saudi Arabia.
In 2016, when Saudi Arabia was reported to have executed 47 people, including a Shia cleric, a move that generated tensions with other countries in the region, mainly Iran. At that time, Sir Nicholas Soames represented the Saudis as ‘essential and very long-standing allies and friends’ after a statement on the situation in the House of Commons.
Nicholas stated: “Does my hon. Friend agrees that although this is a complex relationship, the Saudis are often formidable allies and find us difficult and inexplicable.”
In 2018, A group of MPs met with the crown prince, including Nicholas Soames. MBS had toured the Churchill War Rooms, where the wartime leader directed the government under German bombardment. Mr Soames later expressed there was a significant need to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with KSA.
In January 2013, Anwar Gargash, a proven lobbyist, met with UAE and KSA ‘friendly’ MPs over dinner, and CMEC president Nicholas Soames were also present.
Moreover, CMEC, where Soames serves as president, also takes a strongly pro-Saudi line. When dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, most probably, he was allegedly killed by a 15-man Saudi government hit team. The killing has provoked international outrage, but CMEC’s primary reaction to the killing was to talk about how Saudi Arabia, its ruler Prince Mohammad bin Salman (known as MBS) and his father, the Saudi King, could deal with what they called “Khashoggi’s death”.
CMEC has also strongly supported Saudi over their war in Yemen, despite widespread revulsion at the bombing of civilians. Declining calls to stop arms sales to Saudi, a statement by CMEC expressed they “firmly reiterate our belief that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not only a longstanding and important ally of the United Kingdom but also a force for stability in a troubled region whom we must continue to support with absolute resolve”.