Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has attracted criticism from all sides of Parliament for the claim.
Fallon urged MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia in the interests of securing the sale of Hawk and Typhoon jets, provoking sharp criticism from all sides.
It should be noted that UK sales of military equipment to Saudi Arabia topped £1.1bn in just six months, according to Government figures. Statistics released by the Department for International Trade showed the UK sold £836m of arms and military hardware to Saudi Arabia between April and June this year.
The Defence Secretary said:
“If Opposition Members were really concerned about jobs at BAE Systems, they would get behind our export campaigns for Typhoon and Hawk aircraft, rather than undermining them by criticising potential customers.
When I saw the chairman of BAE Systems last week, I reassured him that we wanted to continue to work with the company.
I have emphasised the importance of keeping production lines open, should new orders for Typhoons and Hawks materialise, and of staying on track in developing RAF Marham for the arrival of the F-35.”
Fallon added later in the day:
“I have to repeat sadly that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia in this Parliament is not helpful and I’ll leave it there.
We need to do everything possible to encourage Saudi Arabia towards batch two and I believe they will commit toward batch two and we continue to work away on the timing.
Well we’ve been working extremely hard on the batch two deal and I travelled to Saudi Arabia back in September and discussed progress on the deal with my opposite number the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and we continue to press for signature of at least a statement of intent.”