Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 39, October 31, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

The Necessity for an anti-war government

Britain Was Second Biggest Arms Dealer for Last Decade, Figures Show

Britain has been the world's second biggest arms exporter behind the US for the past decade, according to figures from the Department for International Trade. Last year, British companies signed £11bn worth of contracts for military equipment and services, down from £14bn in 2018, making it the second highest year for UK arms sales since 1983. It meant the United Kingdom had a 16 per cent share of the global arms trade in 2019.

Since 2010, the British government has signed £86bn worth of contracts, with 60 per cent of those going to the Middle East, according to data from the government's "UK Defence and Security Exports", part of the Department for International Trade. Saudi Arabia was the largest buyer by far. Aerospace accounted for 88 per cent of sales and contracts, including radars and missiles as well as aircraft. The major buyers of British aerospace equipment include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, the USA and Qatar.

The United Kingdom had a 16 per cent share in the global arms trade in 2019, compared to the estimated US share of 47 per cent and Russia and France, which have an 11 and 10 per cent share respectively.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) accused the government of "arming and supporting repression around the world". Andrew Smith, a spokesperson of the CAAT said: "Arms dealers will be celebrating, but these figures should be a source of great shame. Boris Johnson and his colleagues are always talking about 'global Britain' and the importance of human rights and democracy, but they are arming and supporting repression around the world. These sales are not just numbers on a spreadsheet: for people around the world they could be a matter of life and death. UK-made weapons have played a devastating role in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, helping to create the worst humanitarian crisis in the world."

He continued: "Wherever there is conflict there will always be arms companies trying to profit from it. This profiteering does not just enable war, it actively fuels it. The sales being approved today could be used in atrocities and abuses for many years to come."

"The UK is arming and fuelling wars around the world while scapegoating and demonising the victims of those wars," Andrew Smith added. "There is not a 'migration crisis': there is a crisis of, poverty and inequality and the UK government has fuelled and exacerbated it."

The conception promoted by the ruling elite of "Global Britain" is precisely the conception of a pro-war government which keeps Britain as a war economy. The government for its part shamelessly claimed that its arms deals generate thousands of high-skilled jobs and help keep the country safe. It is clear that an anti-war government is required within which a change of direction of the economy would ensure that production does not serve the oligarchs who are parasites on the economy, but rather would serve the pro-social requirements of the working class and people.


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