World leaders always decide to let bygones be bygones when rich visitors are in town

May’s fear that the UK is going to go down the plughole if we really do leave the EU was bound to plunge her into the most unsavoury shopping expeditions

There is a dreary inevitability to the way in which the most dreadful creatures turn up at Downing Street or Buckingham Palace. Archbishop Makarios, Jomo Kenyatta, Menachem Begin, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Robert Mugabe, Nicolae Ceaucescu and Vladimir Putin to name a few. Of the ‘home-grown’ variety, I suppose I would include Tony Blair. So why make such a fuss of his Royal Majesty Mohammad bin Salman?

He’s only a crown prince, after all, wet behind the ears at 32, gouts of blood on his hands to be sure, but scarcely 10,000 have died in his Yemen war. Most of them civilians; but none of them British. Certainly not British soldiers, which didn’t apply to Begin or McGuinness and doesn’t apply to Adams. As for Mohammad’s legal head-choppers, they’ve largely been let loose on Philipinos, Burmese, Pakstanis, Indians and Arabs, women as well as men. Drug-smugglers, murderers, you name it. Saudi ladies will soon be allowed to drive – driving supposedly being a woman’s primary objective in Saudi Arabia – and the British, especially Theresa May, are very keen on this.

You can always tell a fraud, however, by the number of sub-clauses piled up around statements of humanitarian assistance. A real cracker emerged from Downing Street this week when we were assured that Theresa and Mohammad planned – wait for it – “to continue working together to explore ways the UK can support Saudi Arabia to progress (sic)…reforms.” Phew! What it meant, of course, was that Theresa and Mohamed would discover how to improve the miserable UK arms export figures to the Kingdom – a measly £1.1 billion in the past half year, a tiny £836 million of hardware sold to the Saudis in the long months between April and June.


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