Speaking in the House of Commons during PMQs, the Labour leader asked Prime Minister Theresa May whether she would call on the Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to stop the “shocking human rights abuse” when she meets the Saudi Arabian ruler later today.
Jeremy Corbyn started his question by reminding the Prime Minister it is International Women’s Day on Thursday.
Mrs May replied: “First of all, can I thank the Honourable Gentleman for telling me that it is International Women’s Day tomorrow.
“I think that’s what’s called mansplaining.
“I welcome, I look forward to welcoming crown prince from Saudi Arabia.
“Well, Labour backbenchers from secondary positions are shouting ’Shame’.
“Can I just say to those backbenchers that the link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one, and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country.
“And can I say that actually the fact that it is an important link is not just the views that I hold, but shadow foreign secretary this morning said ‘Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is an important one’.
“She also went on to say that that doesn’t mean we should be pulling our punches and I agree, which is why I will be raising concerns about human rights with the crown prince when I meet him.
“And can I just say, as the right honourable gentleman started on the issue of International Women’s Day, I welcome the fact that the crown prince will be sitting down with, as the guest of, a female Prime Minister.”
Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday to focus on areas of agreement with Saudi Arabia.
Ahead of the visit, Saudi Arabia defended its “just” war on Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday: “They criticise us for a war in Yemen that we did not want, that was imposed on us.”
He added: “They criticise us for a war in Yemen that is a just war, that is supported by international law.”
The crown prince’s visit is expected to include lunch with the Queen, dinner with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, a day at the Prime Minister’s rural retreat Chequers, and attendance at a meeting of the UK national security council.
Mrs May and Mohammed bin Salman are expected to discuss the need for a supplementary agreement on the Iranian ballistic missile programme and possible sanctions on Tehran after a UN panel of experts found that Iranian-sourced missiles reached Houthi rebels in Yemen in violation of a UN arms embargo.