A few weeks ago I emailed my MP, Helen Hayes, on the matter of the government’s support of Saudi Arabia in Yemen. I had urged friends on Facebook to contact their own MP, although that was typically to ask them why they’d voted to continue the support of Saudia Arabia under such questionable circumstances. I thought that since Helen had voted favourably, it was worth a note of thanks. Here is my original email and her response published with permission.

Sent by email, 29th October 2016

Dear Ms. Hayes

I’m writing solely for the purpose of saying thank you for voting against the call on the Government to suspend its support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces in Yemen until it has been determined whether they have been responsible for any such violations earlier this week. This was the second vote brought to my attention this week via social media on matters I believe important, although the first on child refugees from Syria dated back to April this year. I suppose it’s one of the facets of social media that old news can bring fresh outrage, and perhaps rightly so in this case.
In any case, I urged those who found their MPs voting unfavourably (in my opinion and theirs) in relation to these motions to write to their MP and ask for an explanation. In turn, I thought it a good thing to write and thank you for voting favourably. At the same time, I hope you will use your influence as an MP to convince those members of your party who voted to continue supporting Saudi Arabia that this is a grave error, not just in the context of Yemen, but in the wider context of this being a barbaric regime which I believe we, as a country, only support due to a dependence on oil and arms.
Best regards
Ben
Response received by email 9th November 2016
Dear Ben,

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the ongoing conflict and humanitarian situation in Yemen.
I share the strong concern that has been raised about reports of potential breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen, and the Government has been pressed on this issue by my colleague the Shadow Foreign Secretary on a number of occasions now.

Last week I voted for the Opposition Day Motion to withdraw support for Saudi-led coalition until a UN investigation can assess whether it has violated international humanitarian law in Yemen.

In my view, the evidence is sufficient to constitute a serious risk that UK-provided arms may be used in violations of international humanitarian law. The Government should therefore support an independent inquiry into alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen and immediately suspend all arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it has concluded. I believe any perception that the Government is failing in its responsibility to apply its own criteria on arms sales will seriously undermine Britain in the eyes of the world.

I hope the Government will continue to encourage all countries to work towards a solution to the crisis in Yemen, and listen carefully to the points that have been raised on this issue by a number of charities, on what more can be done to provide the humanitarian aid and stabilisation that is so desperately needed.

I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue very closely. Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Helen
Sent on behalf of Helen Hayes MP
Member of Parliament for Dulwich and West Norwood

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