Saudi crown prince’s UK visit prompts heavy criticism by opposition

The Saudi crown prince faced heavy criticism from British opposition figures at the start of a three-day visit to the UK that includes lunch with the Queen and dinner with the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge.

Mohammed bin Salman was accused of funding extremism in the UK, committing human rights abuses domestically, and breaching international humanitarian law in Yemen, where Riyadh has intervened in a war that has killed thousands of civilians and driven the Middle East’s poorest country to the brink of famine.

Campaigners against the war also rallied near parliament and several hundred held a protest outside the gates of Downing Street. A man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after an egg was thrown at police vehicle as Bin Salman’s motorcade arrived.

In his most unbridled attack yet on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the three-year Yemen conflict, Jeremy Corbyn said during prime minister’s questions the country was responsible for putting millions at risk of starvation.

The British military was colluding in an unlawfully conducted war, the Labour leader said, claiming UK personnel were directing the Saudi military campaign from Riyadh.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, condemned ministers for rolling out the red carpet and providing the equivalent of a state visit to “a dictatorial head of a theocratic, medieval regime”. He called on the UK government to demand the Saudis end the systematic bombing of civilian targets in Yemen, which the crown prince initiated.

The shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, speaking in the House of Commons, accused ministers of “bowing and scraping” to the crown prince.

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