Anyone suspected of involvement in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi will be barred from entering the UK, Theresa May has said.
Britain’s Prime Minister said if any of the suspects had a visa it would be revoked as she demanded the Saudi authorities provide a full explanation of how the Washington Post columnist died at the Gulf kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Mrs May told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions that she would speak to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday. Turkish officials say Mr Khashoggi was killed on October 2 by a 15-man Saudi hit squad that included a member of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage on overseas trips.
The Prime Minister rejected the Saudi claim that Mr Khashoggi died after a fight at the consulate.
She said: “We condemn the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the strongest possible terms and after his disappearance we made clear that Saudi Arabia must co-operate with Turkey and conduct a full and credible investigation.
“The claim that has been made that Mr Khashoggi died in a fight does not amount to a credible explanation so there does remain an urgent need to establish what has happened in relation to this.” Mrs May added that Home Secretary Sajid Javid is “taking action against all suspects to prevent them entering the UK”.
“If these individuals currently have visas, those visas will be revoked today,” she told MPs.
The announcement on the visas follows similar measures taken by the United States. The UK Government has come under pressure to go further and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a key trading partner.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the killing had “all the hallmarks of being a premeditated murder” and urged Mrs May to follow Germany in announcing that it would not approve new arms sales.
“That is moral leadership, the UK Government must take decisive action,” he said. “Words of condemnation will not do.”
Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine also urged Western powers to “take a stand” over the killing.
But while he said that Britain should be prepared, if necessary, to halt arms sales to the Saudis, he warned that such measures would lead to a loss of UK influence in Riyadh.
In deciding what action to take, he said, the Government also needs to take account of the important stabilising role which Saudi Arabia has played in the Middle East.
“In this particular case I haven’t the slightest doubt that the Western allies have got to take a stand over the butchering of Mr Khashoggi,” Lord Heseltine told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He said that while Britain should be prepared to take action against the Saudis, the Government must think through the consequences.
“The problem with stopping selling arms is that it doesn’t have any effect on the ability of these countries to behave in the way that they want to because there are plenty of other sources of arms procurement,” he said.
“What it does mean is that you lose any influence in those countries.”- Press Association