Tom Brake on human rights in Saudi Arabia

"Our cooperation and Saudi's cooperation with us has helped to save lives in the United Kingdom".

'We handle these things as well as anybody - we're rather better at pricing than NY, where they can be a bit frothy and tend to overestimate because people can be so greedy'.

Last September, a joint report by the the Commons business and global development committees called for a suspension of arms sales until the completion of an independent inquiry into alleged human-rights breaches.

May was expected to explore ways of boosting trade ties with the kingdom during her two-day visit, her second to a Gulf Arab state since Britain chose to leave the EU.

"But we'll also be talking about the important relationship with Saudi Arabia in terms of trade but also security".

"So I hope my visit will herald a further intensification in relations between our countries and deepen true strategic partnerships, enabling us to seize the opportunities ahead and ensure the security and prosperity of our people for decades to come".

British Prime Minister Theresa May is escorted by Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, upon their arrival to Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The war has killed at least 4,770 civilians and wounded more than 8,200 according to the United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

I am writing in advance of your visit to Saudi Arabia tomorrow, to ask you to raise urgently with the regime a number of serious human rights concerns. "They're important for us in terms of security, they're important for us in terms of defense, and yes in terms of trade".

'So, rather than just standing on the sidelines and sniping, it's important to engage, to talk to people, to talk about our interests and to raise, yes, hard issues when we feel it's necessary to do so'. But today the Prime Minister proved that what she chooses to wear has the power to semaphore a highly politicised message to the world.

Jeremy Corbyn called on the PM to put human rights at the centre of her talks with Saudi leaders.

Back in December, May slapped down Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson after he was recorded accusing the Saudis of "puppeteering and playing proxy wars" in the Middle East. More than half of the population of Saudi Arabia is under 25-years-old and 70 percent are under 35, representing a large potential consumer market, but also a massive challenge for the government to keep up with job creation and affordable housing.

'But I hope also that people see me as a woman leader, will see what women can achieve and how women can be in significant positions'.

When they look at the map of the region they see Iran effectively controlling five Middle Eastern capitals now: Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana'a, and spreading its influence among the Shia populations in Bahrain and along Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast.

  • Carolyn Briggs