Lord Rodney Rowdent-Shutworth, trustee of the British Campaign for Prosperity, has invited Sir Thistlebottom Blockstein, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Advancement of British Sovereignty, to address the issue of British arms in areas of conflict.
Lord Rowdent-Shutworth, who traces his ancestry to one of Crusaders, is concerned over the criticism being leveled that the Department for International Trade (DIT) employs more than 150 civil servants and military personnel for the sole purpose of promoting arms sales.
Most recently several of them were in Abu Dhabi at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (Idex 2019), the Middle East’s biggest arms fair. But next, they could be anywhere, pursuing more lucrative deals.
Sir Thistlebottom declares, “It is unmistakably ridiculous that some people are waging a campaign against our business interests, especially in the lucrative market in the Middle East.”
Rowdent-Shutworth, quickly adds, “What do you say about the criticism of our participation in Idex?”
Sir Thistlebottom adds, “I would dare to say that we, the British, have become a self-hating people. You know Idex has been going for 25 years and more than 90 countries participate. I would say that we should appreciate Abu Dhabi, which is providing such a pleasing venue for selling our arms. More than 100,000 people visit the weeklong show. It is business with pleasure. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces was there to meet with exhibitors and VIPs.
“They need to go back and see what Prime Minister Theresa May said at [World Economic Forum] Davos in 2017 that in a truly global Britain, our export of arms was part of that business model.”
Rowdent-Shutworth, “Sir Thistlebottom you are right when in a world where our future trade hangs in the Brexit balance, it is imperative that we look at profits instead of protecting human rights.”
Rowdent-Shutworth raising his index finger, states, “Absolutely. Britain needs to continue focusing on the Middle East. With rising military budgets, it is an important region for the arms trade. In 2017 it accounted for more than two-thirds of all our arms sales.
“Our Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is doing an excellent job in listing human rights priority countries. However, at the same time, the DIT’s Defense and Security Organization identified its core markets for 2017-18 for defense and security opportunities, and yes three of these countries are also on the FCO’s ‘Priority Countries’: Bahrain, Colombia and Saudi Arabia.
“But look from 2008 to 2017, British companies were granted £12 billion worth of military controlled arms exports licenses to 29 of the FCO’s 30 human rights priority countries. In total, some 27,000 licenses were granted over that period to these places. Overall, military exports to these 29 countries constitute 30.89% of our total value of military arms exports licenses issued by the government globally between 2008 and 2017, which was nearly £39 billion.
“I am giving these numbers to project that how we are keeping British industry, which is British jobs ticking.
“The British people need these jobs. Our businesses need these jobs. Let us look at a segment of our economy that in 2018-19 generated more than £12 billion in taxes. Our alcohol industry continues as our country’s top selling in the consumer goods category, worth £16 billion in 2017.
“We need to keep people in jobs to keep them drinking. Our pub trade is one of our great revenue earners for our government where we get £1 on every £3 spent in pubs. Sadly the number of pubs is going down. We had 39,000 pubs in 2018, down from 50,000 a decade earlier.
“We must continue to boost our arms sales to keep our consumer sector thriving. I would say at the Idex, the buyers left stronger and the sellers left richer. Do we need to care or even think for the people they might be used against?
“Here, we should apply the idiom that first appeared sometime in the sixteenth century that the devil take the hindmost.”