Keir Starmer has refuted allegations that he has weakened his commitment to implementing a law that would allow MPs to vote before any military intervention takes place and to cease selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.
In the midst of his party’s 2020 competition for leadership, the Labour leader made a commitment to implement a “prevention of military intervention act” that would prevent further unlawful wars and require a legitimate justification, approval from the Commons, and a feasible objective before any military action could be taken.
Starmer has supported the US-backed RAF attacks in Yemen that were approved by Rishi Sunak without involving lawmakers, but he maintained on Sunday that there was no contradiction between the two stances.
The leader of the Labour party stated that he believes military action should be subject to parliamentary approval. He clarified, “There is a clear difference between a single operation like the recent one, and a long-term military campaign that typically involves troops on the ground.”
Inquired about his proposal to involve the House of Commons solely in the decision to deploy ground troops, he replied: “Yes, because my intention when I made that promise was to formalize the tradition.”
Starmer suggested that the obligation for Members of Parliament to have a voice may not necessarily have to be legally mandated. “I aim to formalize this – it could be through legislation, or it could be through alternative methods,” he stated. “I am not dismissing the possibility of a law.”
Dismissing concerns that his decision could upset the more progressive members of the party, Starmer stated, “I have never heard a Labour supporter suggest that we should delay urgent measures in order to convene parliament.”
In 2020, prior to becoming the leader of the Labour party, Starmer expressed his belief that the UK should cease the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia due to concerns about their involvement in the civil war in Yemen.
The individual informed the BBC that he remains dedicated to evaluating all weapon transactions, but he declined to give a definite stance when it pertains to the Saudi Arabian government. “We will thoroughly assess the situation and the review will provide us with the necessary responses.”
The Conservatives criticized Starmer for lacking the ability to articulate his plans for change, instead choosing to simply criticize from the sidelines.
Dismissing the notion that he often flip-flops and goes against his beliefs and principles, Starmer stated that the majority of Labour party members support the changes and progress made within the party. He emphasized that four years ago, the party was in a difficult state after a disappointing election outcome.
“We have made significant changes to the Labour party, positioning ourselves to be a strong contender in this year’s election. This has greatly pleased the majority of Labour party members and supporters.”
Starmer justified his use of a private jet, funded by Qatar, to meet with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the leader of the country, to discuss the hostage situation in Gaza. This decision was defended despite Labour’s criticism of Sunak’s frequent use of private jets.
On Sunday, the leader of the Labour party stated that there is a significant difference between taking flights within England when train travel is an option, and using those flights to conduct important discussions with leaders from other countries.
Based on records from Parliament, Starmer utilized a private jet provided by Qatar for his travel between the Cop28 climate conference and Doha. During his trip, he also met with the Emir of Qatar and was accompanied by three staff members. This journey would have incurred a cost of over £25,000 for Qatar.
“I believe there is a clear difference, which most individuals would comprehend, between flying in the situation I have just described and utilizing private jets to travel around England when trains can get you there almost as fast,” he stated in an interview with BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg.
In Dubai, I engaged in several conversations with global leaders about climate change, as expected. However, I also had just as many discussions about the Middle East conflict and finding a sustainable solution for a ceasefire.
Starmer faced scrutiny for his decision to take a complimentary trip to Qatar, despite previously stating that he would not attend the World Cup in protest of the country’s human rights violations.