Boris Johnson slammed for labelling call to halt UK arms sales to Israel 'insane'

Boris Johnson slammed for labelling call to halt UK arms sales to Israel 'insane'
The former UK Prime Minister faced backlash for labelling the call to ban arms sales to Israel as “insane”.
2 min read
06 April, 2024

The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson has slammed the call for the UK to halt its arms exports to Israel, branding the idea as "insane" and saying the sooner the idea is denounced, "the better".

In a column in The Daily Mail, Boris Johnson questioned whether an arms embargo is "really what" the nation wants. The UK has been under pressure to halt its arms sales after seven aid workers, including three British ex-forces, were killed by an Israeli air strike on Monday.

These calls will likely increase if it is proven that the engine in the Hermes 450 drone responsible for their deaths was UK-made, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) suggests.

Right-wing media outlets, typically sympathetic to Israel, expressed outrage for the killings, including The Daily Mail itself, with its leading headlines covering the story by not just criticising the killing of the British workers, but also Israel's general lack of care about civilian casualties.

The Tory MP labelled the call as "the death wish of Western civilisation", and while the killing of World Central Kitchen workers was "shattering", Johnson defended Israel's right to "defend" itself against Hamas.

Johnson has received backlash online for his column, with many reminding the former prime minister that Israel has killed over 33,000 Palestinian civilians. 

Johnson's comments go against the many conservative MPs backing the call for the UK to rethink its arms exports to Israel.

Conservative MPs David Jones, Paul Bristow, Flick Drummond, and former minister Hugo Swire, who have also called for the UK to stop its arms trade with Israel, including Mark Logan, calling for the UK to "seriously reassess" its exports to Israel in light of the WCK killings.

Peter Ricketts, a former national security advisor and permanent secretary at the UK Foreign Office and Conservative peer, told the BBC that the time had come to send Israel that "signal" by ending exports.

The UK government has licensed weapons exports worth over £574 million to Israel, according to government export data analysed by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), with fears that UK-made weaponry could be responsible for many of those killed in the Israeli onslaught.

While UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the killings as an "awful, awful tragedy", he told The Sun that arms licenses are kept under "careful" review and "regulations and procedures" are followed.