WATCH: Emily Thornberry says UK is being ‘outdone by Trump’ on standing up to Saudi Arabia
UK ministers are being “outdone by Donald Trump” on standing up to Saudia Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Labour’s Emily Thornberry has said.
The Washington Post columnist has been missing since 2 October after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish officials have claimed that he was murdered inside the building.
In the wake of the alleged assassination, the US President threatened the Saudi authorities with “severe punishment” if they were responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s death.
Asked today if she believed that the Saudi state was to blame, Ms Thornberry told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think the balance of evidence is that they did.
“I think they’ve had 11 days, 11 days to explain and they haven’t come up with any decent explanation at all.”
She also slammed the Government’s response to the incident, saying Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had offered “nothing but pusillanimous mutterings”.
“He’s being outdone by Donald Trump,” she said.
“Who would have thought that? We’re playing catch up with Donald Trump when it comes to condemnation of this and actually taking action and being prepared to stand firm.”
The comments come on the back of an article for the Observer, in which Ms Thornberry blasted Mr Hunt for commenting on the incident seven days after Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance.
However, Mr Hunt hit back today, tweeting: “Really Emily? From the party whose leader wouldn’t even condemn Russia by name after the first ever chemical weapons attack on British soil... we have been robust and will continue to be on this very troubling issue.”
Elsewhere, Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner was equally critical of the Governemnt’s response, telling BBC Radio 4’s Pienaar’s Politics: “I wish there had been a hail of criticism from the UK government.
“What happened was it took seven days for the UK foreign secretary to put out a tweet on his twitter feed. This is ridiculous.”