In a startling revelation, it has come to light that Saudi Arabia has significantly increased its spending on British Members of Parliament (MPs) this year, tripling its hospitality and gift expenditures to a staggering £100,000. This surge in Saudi spending has raised serious concerns and put the spotlight on the relationship between the British government and a regime widely criticized for its human rights violations. This revelation coincides with the ongoing scrutiny surrounding the Saudi regime’s alleged involvement in the “state-sponsored murder” of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
One MP that has come under particular scrutiny in this context is Simon Hoare. Mr. Hoare accepted the equivalent of $4,000 in hospitality from the Saudi government after vocally supporting the kingdom during a parliamentary debate in Westminster. His acceptance of such hospitality is not an isolated incident, as numerous British politicians have been found to accept trips to Riyadh, collectively costing the Saudi regime over £208,000.
Intriguingly, ahead of Khashoggi’s tragic execution, which has led many fingers to point at Riyadh, the Saudi regime had already faced intense criticism for silencing dissidents, persecuting political opponents, and conducting public executions. This controversy has prompted calls for greater transparency regarding the deep-seated ties between the British government and Saudi Arabia.
One notable example is Simon Hoare MP, who not only accepted hospitality trips but also offered his endorsement of the Saudi regime’s efforts. After a £3,187 trip to Saudi Arabia in 2017, he assured the House of Commons that “Saudi Arabia is going through self-authored and hugely welcome modernisation and change.” Merely two months later, he embarked on a second trip, costing a hefty £7,800, to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
This escalating effort by Saudi authorities to increase hospitality trips for British MPs has reignited concerns about the nature of the relationship between the two nations. While the Saudi regime has been a key player in the coalition combatting Houthi rebels in Yemen, it has faced immense international criticism for the humanitarian crisis resulting from this conflict. Amnesty International reports over 15,000 civilian deaths, while UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, warns that up to 400,000 children are at risk of malnutrition-related deaths.
Human Rights Watch has consistently raised alarms about Saudi Arabia’s treatment of dissidents and activists, citing arbitrary arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful individuals. Despite mounting criticism, Saudi Arabia’s deep financial engagement with British MPs remains a contentious issue, challenging the delicate balance between political influence and human rights concerns on the global stage.