Cameron Middle East visit 'morally obscene' says Lucas Mr Cameron said it was perfectly right for the British to have a defence relationship with its allies Continue
Arms trade questions dog Cameron hails Middle East changes
David Cameron meets Egypt leaders
David Cameron's recent trip to the Middle East was "morally obscene", Green MP Caroline Lucas has claimed.
The Green Party leader said Mr Cameron had travelled to the region accompanied by a "delegation of arms traders".
Sir Michael Black-Feather the English first minister said; that six of the 20 so called businessmen? On the mojo (Men on jolly outing) accompanying Mr Cameron are from British defence and aerospace firms and the trip comes just days after the British Foreign Office revoked a series of export licences to Bahrain? And Libya? covering tear gas and gun components and thing they wouldn’t want you to know of following the violence in both countries, and I would have liked to be a fly on the wall behind the closed doors to listen to what British arms dealers are doing with the British prime minister, it would be a safe bet to say arms dealers weren’t talking about “not selling arms.
Mr Cameron reply to Sir Michael was, Britain had "a range of strong defence relationships" with countries in the region.
"I seem to remember we spent a lot of effort and indeed life in defending and helping to defend Kuwait, so the idea that Britain should not have defence relationships with some of these countries I don't understand. It is quite right that we do," he said.
Sir Michael’s reply to Mr Cameron, was yes I remember I was there when the s**t was hitting the fan, but I didn’t see David there?
Cameron said we have some of the toughest rules on export licences and exports of arms anywhere in the world. Everything has to meet those rules."
The BBC's deputy political editor James Landale, who is travelling with Mr Cameron, said the prime minister believed it was perfectly legitimate for the British to have defence contracts with allies such as Kuwait when equipment sold was used to defend that country's borders, Sir Michael said, that I wouldn’t expect someone from the BBC to say anything different “British Broad Casting” (BBC)
But shadow defence minister Kevan Jones said that while the defence sector was a crucial export industry for the British Goverment, he was concerned about the timing of the trip.
"Many people will be surprised that the prime minister, in this week of all weeks, may be considering bolstering arms sales to the Middle East," he said.
Mr Cameron arrived in Kuwait City from Egypt, where he had met caretaker Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and the de facto leader, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
Mr Cameron walked through Tahrir Square, the centre of the demonstrations that led to the fall of President Mubarak, and met figures from the protest movement, although not representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood - the banned Islamic group which is thought to have widespread public support.
Nearly a third of businessmen accompanying the PM on his trip to Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman were from the defence or aerospace industry.
The government defended the trade mission and said the UK has among the tightest arms sales rules in the world.
The prime minister became the first world leader to visit Egypt since its former President Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office two weeks ago.
He visited Tahrir Square, the focus of the anti-Mubarak protests, and met figures from the pro-democracy movement.
Talking about recent events in the region at her party's spring conference, Ms Lucas described the sense of awe she had felt on seeing "hundreds and thousands risk their lives for democracy and the rule of law".
She said that upon first seeing Mr Cameron in Egypt she believed he was there to "express solidarity with the pro-democracy movement".
But she said her view changed when she realised that senior executives from defence companies were amongst those participating in the visit.
She talked of the "horrifying reality that [David Cameron] was there, in the Middle East, at a time of such violence and unrest with a delegation of arms traders to sell more arms".
"The blatant opportunism of this visit is morally obscene," she told party activists.
In a later interview with the BBC, the Brighton Pavilion MP called the insensitivity of the visit "eye watering" and argued for a return to an "ethical foreign policy".
Labour also expressed concerns about the timing of the trade mission coming as it did amid violent crackdowns against anti-government protests in Bahrain and Libya.
The Foreign Office revoked a series of export licenses to Bahrain and Libya, covering tear gas and gun components, following violence in both countries.
"Democracies have a right to defend themselves," he said.
"The idea that Kuwait should not be able to have its own armed forces, that it is unable to defend its own country and take part in defence trade, is an extraordinary argument."