Why did Fylde MP travel overseas to meet underfire Saudis?
Fylde MP Mark Menzies has defended taking four overseas trips in the last two years which cost more than Â£20,000.
The Tory MP went on two trips to Saudi Arabia costing £14,522, a trip to see blockades in Qatar which cost £4,600 and a £1,364 visit to Norway to meet British scientists involved in the British Arctic Survey. A cost of £1,700 on a trip to Israel and Palestine was included in the figures published by the BBC, but dates back to 2012, his advisors said.
He is one of 340 MPs to have declared trips totalling more than £2m as part of their roles in All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG), which have been revealed on Parliament’s expenses register.
More than half of the trips were paid for by foreign governments with Saudi Arabia spent more than any other.
Mr Menzies, who is a member of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG), said he has no trips planned in his diary currently.
Political links with the Saudi regime have been under increasing scrutiny since the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “When I meet with members of the unions at BAE, I have to look them in the eye and tell them I have done all I can to help their workers with Government to Government orders and that is part of the reason I visited both Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“I have more constituents living in Saudi Arabia than any other MP, hence my involvement with the Saudi APPG.
“My last visit to the Kingdom was more than a year ago.
“Since that visit we have grilled the Saudi Foreign minister over the situation in Yemen and invited members of the APPG on Yemen to take part in that meeting.
“The APPG is fully behind the Government’s lobbying across the international community for urgent and unobstructed access for humanitarian assistance into Yemen and for a ceasefire to be agreed.
“We want all parties to comply fully with international humanitarian law so we can reach a lasting political solution in Yemen.
“And following the shocking disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, I wrote through the APPG a letter to the Foreign Secretary urging the Government to call for a full and thorough investigation into the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi, and for the UK Government to support all authorities in their enquiries.”
No other Fylde coast MP - Gordon Marsden, Ben Wallace, Cat Smith and Paul Maynard - declared an overseas trip in the last two years.