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In the Press

  • 15th June 2018
    In the Press

    Today the Saudi led coalition launched a full scale attack on the port of Hodeidah in Yemen. The Saudis and Emiratis have been urged not to do so by representatives from every humanitarian organisation in the world. Staunch allies of Saudi Arabia such as Britain have warned of the devastating consequences for civilians who will inevitably face the full impact of this military onslaught.

    Although the British Prime Minister Theresa May and Boris Johnson the Foreign Secretary have urged restraint in personal contact with the Emirates and with Muhammed Bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince, warnings and fears have been ignored.

    The problem for Britain is that we are complicit in this attack. We are part of the coalition that supports Saudi Arabia in its war in the Yemen. The Yemen is already blockaded by the Saudi coalition. Repeated warnings that a man-made famine is being generated have been ignored. Britain, as the ‘pen holder’ at the United Nations on Yemen nevertheless takes a nakedly pro Saudi approach to the conflict. Indeed, a recent Presidential statement drafted by Britain had to be suppressed by other members of that same Security Council. Britain rightly condemns the Houthi’s for launching sporadic missile attacks on Riyadh but stays silent on the nightly air attacks which kill innocent civilians in Yemen and are inflicted by the Saudi Air Force. When I was in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city last year, on one night alone, there were 6 terrifying bombing raids.

    The British Government finds itself not on the side of innocent families who fear the fire that falls from above but on the side of the perpetrator who has now launched a huge military gamble to take the Yemeni port of Hodeidah from the Houthi rebels. The echoes of what the Russians did in Syria over Aleppo ring out. The UK Government rightly condemned the brutal attack on innocent lives in Aleppo. Where is Britain’s voice of sanity in the looming humanitarian catastrophe in Hodeidah?

    This reckless assault to capture Yemen’s main port threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. It is time now for the British Government to make clear it will no longer support what Saudi Arabia is doing in Yemen and call for an immediate cease fire. We should align itself absolutely alongside the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths - a British International civil servant of huge experience. Any hope he has of achieving a cease fire and the start of political negotiations is destroyed by today’s onslaught. Indeed, cynics are saying that the whole reason for the timing of this Saudi and Emirati attack on Hodeidah is to destroy any chance of Martin Griffiths and the United Nations securing the cease fire upon which those political talks must depend.

    Be in no doubt, the immediate risk to civilians of this attack on the densely populated Hodeidah port is terrifying. The UN humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande states that ‘as many as 250,000 people may lose everything – even their lives’; the British Foreign Secretary has acknowledged that 350,000 people could be forced from their homes into the desert beyond where there is neither water nor food. The wider humanitarian risk is eye watering: enormous numbers of innocent Yemenis will be at risk of entrapment, displacement, disease and starvation. Turning Hodeidah into a conflict zone would restrict access to the port through which a massive 70% of Yemen’s imports flow. Any disruption to vital imports will be measured in Yemeni lives. Indeed, it is doubtful whether this attack could comply with International Humanitarian Law.

    Finally, quite apart from risking humanitarian catastrophe and derailing any prospect of peace, respected military experts make clear that the plan for the attack is ‘lunacy’ – destined to fail or draw the coalition into a drawn out and bloody battle. Even the General leading the UAE’s forces has reportedly admitted that pacifying Hodeidah, if indeed it is possible, will take a very long time. The attention of British ministers and politician’s is inevitably focused elsewhere at this time but we should be unequivocal in our message to the UAE and Saudi: they will be held accountable for any violations against civilians and breaches of the rules of war carried out by forces that they train, pay or give orders to.

    Britain, along with our allies in the US and France has unique influence to steer Saudi Arabia and the UAE away from this recklessness. Just consider what happens if Iran decides that the international rule based system is not standing up for international humanitarian law and intervenes further? As supporters of the Saudi/UAE–led coalition and key arms suppliers we bear a unique responsibility. We cannot face the other way as this catastrophe in Yemen unfolds. We must stand true to our own values, to strategic common sense, indeed true to our allies best interests and make clear we can no longer support their war in Yemen.

    Thousands of Yemeni lives may hang on us doing the right thing. All our energies in this matter must be dedicated to supporting the United Nations in achieving a ceasefire and the start of the political negotiations upon which the future of this poor, tragic and beautiful country depend.

    Read the article in the Guardian

  • 20th May 2018
    In the Press

    Mr Mitchell has written to the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police – David Thompson – regarding the brutal murder which took place on 17 May, at around 3.30pm outside the McDonald’s in Lower Parade in the Royal Town.

    You can read the full letter here.

    | Birmingham Mail

  • 16th April 2018
    In the Press

    Andrew Mitchell has pledged his support for ‘Clearly’, a global campaign to enable universal access to glasses. Last week ‘Clearly’ are calling on Commonwealth leaders to commit to vision for everyone at their Heads of Government meeting. The meeting of the diverse community of 53 nations will consider a range of key issues focusing on a better future of all people of the Commonwealth.

    It is estimated that three-quarters of the leaders at this meeting will be wearing spectacles. Unfortunately, this is not an option for nearly a billion people in their countries, who suffer from poor vision because they have no access to glasses.

    Mr Mitchell said: ‘Poor vision has a direct impact on performances in school and at work. While working as a Secretary of State for International Development I witnessed first-hand the devastating effects little to no vision can have on people in the developing world.’

    ‘Clear vision serves as a universal aid to reducing poverty, providing quality education and ensuring employment. Universal access to glasses would create a fairer and more prosperous world for everyone.’

    Read the article in The Times here

  • 2nd March 2018
    In the Press

    Andrew Mitchell recently visited his alma mater, University of Cambridge, to speak with the Cambridge Globalist.

    The discussion broached on a number of topics including the importance of continuing British aid, the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and his recent visit to Yemen that marked the first time a European politician has visited the rebel controlled north of the country since the outbreak of the civil war in 2005.

    In discussing the importance of British aid, Mr Mitchell stated that “every penny of Britain’s development budget is spent in the interest of Britain, because it makes the world safer and more prosperous. It is also, I would submit, one of the best investments in the younger generation. For your generation, which incidentally heavily supports international development, it is a key way of ensuring you inherit a world that is safer and more prosperous”.

    Interview: Andrew Mitchell

  • 25th January 2018
    In the Press

    Andrew Mitchell, along with other senior Conservative MPs, has urged the Government to conduct an urgent review of the controversial joint enterprise laws.

    The legal principle of joint enterprise means that an individual can be convicted of murder even if they had not inflicted the fatal blow. Established in the 1980s, it was an easy route for prosecutors to convict multiple suspects for a single crime – most of whom were suspected of being gang members.

    However, when ‘joint enterprise’ was used in cases of murder – it set the threshold for culpability so dangerously low that the prosecutor was simply required to prove that the defendant could have ‘foreseen’ that a murder or violent act was likely to take place - even if they did not intend to assist or encourage the murder at all.

    In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that judges had misinterpreting the law for 30 years. Yet despite this, a series of appeals that have been brought under the new legal interpretation have not resulted in any verdicts being overturned.

    Mr Mitchell said: “Thousands of people are estimated to have been prosecuted under joint enterprise over the last decade alone, with a wealth of evidence suggesting that it disproportionately affects those who identify as black, Asian and minority ethnic.

    “It is startling that our courts are so keen to block appeals by those who may have been convicted by error of the courts.”

    Read the article here.
    Find Mr Mitchell’s speech here.

  • 27th November 2017
    In the Press

    The British Army is secretly training Saudi Arabian troops to fight in Yemen, where the country has been accused of committing crimes against humanity. Codenamed Operation Crossways, it was never supposed to be made public but was exposed after photographs were made publicly available on social media.

    Andrew Mitchell said: ‘The UK has been shamefully complicit in Saudi’s role in Yemen, which has clearly included breaches of the Geneva Convention…I have no doubt Parliament will require an explanation of this training mission in view of the high level of concern about the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Yemen.’

    Andrew Mitchell’s article in the Mail Online is available to read here.

  • 16th November 2017
    In the Press

    Andrew Mitchell MP has urged the Government to push for greater tax haven transparency to help tackle corrupt practices.

    He said: "We have an obligation not least to our own taxpayers to champion transparency and openness and to have zero tolerance towards corruption.

    "The time has come, and this is the third debate that I have taken part in, to insist on the same levels of openness and transparency for the overseas territories as we have in this country.

    "Registers must be open to the media, to journalists, to NGOs and to those people who can join up the dots."

    Philip Hammond pressured to tackle tax avoidance in autumn budget, getSURREY, 16 Nov 2017.

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