If elected, UK’s Corbyn will likely damage business in the Middle East

Middle East
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacts at a launch event for the Labour party

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacts at a launch event for the Labour party’s general election campaign in London, Britain October 31, 2019. . (photo credit: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS)

A prominent British consulting company said in an October report that a Labour party government run by Jeremy Corbyn would likely hurt United Kingdom business in the Middle East, including trade with Israel.

According to the report titled “Brexit and the UK elections: Implications for Britain’s relations with the Middle East,” the British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been widely condemned as an Antisemite,  is the “main risk” for closer relations between the UK and  Middle Easter and North Africa (MENA) countries  .

“Middle Eastern states are closely observing the political process in the UK and will only make strategic moves once the threat of a Corbyn led government subsides. Should Corbyn become PM, the UK’s relations with the MENA region will suffer on the political, economic and security levels,” noted the Cornerstone Global Associates report obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

The risk report said “Besides being negatively perceived in most Gulf states with the exception of Qatar, Corbyn is also negatively perceived in Israel due to antisemitism accusations. It is likely that should Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minister, relations with most Middle Eastern countries, with the exception of Qatar, will significantly deteriorate. This will have a significant overall detrimental impact on the ability of the UK to sign any free trade agreements with Middle Eastern states, except with Qatar.”

Qatar has faced criticism over the years for its support of  the US and EU-designated terrorist organization  Hamas and allegations from a German federal minister that the monarchy supports the Islamic State terrorist movement.

Cornerstone wrote in its report: “As Labour leader, Corbyn met with Qatar’s ruler, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in July 2018. Corbyn is reported to have turned down a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince. Qatar is viewed by other Middle Eastern states as a sponsor of terrorism due to its close relations with Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, whose spiritual guide, Yusuf Qaradawi, is a Qatari citizen with close links to Qatar’s leadership. Qaradawi was banned from the UK in 2008.”

Sources inside Qatar told Cornerstone that Qatar “financially supports” pro-Corbyn Islamist groups such as “Finsbury Park Mosque and Muslim Association of Britain”, who are openly critical of other Middle Eastern states.

The prospect for negotiating a new free trade deal between the UK and Israel in a post-Brexit world appears good. The report said “With an agreement already provisionally in place with Israel, it is likely it will not prove complicated for the UK to arrange a free trade agreement with Israel once or if Brexit is completed, “ adding that “Key regional markets for the UK in the MENA are in the Gulf and Israel, with these places the ripest for expanded trade in industries the UK traditionally specialises in (defence and aerospace, construction, and financial services).”

Cornerstone said  “Elsewhere in the region, Israel became the first country to agree in principle a free trade agreement with a post Brexit UK in January 2019. On signing the agreement, International Trade Secretary [Liam  ] Fox said: “’srael has been one of the most cooperative and productive partners in this relationship where our trade is already strong and set to go further. For us, the continuity as we leave the European Union will be a precursor to an even more ambitious agreement in the future.”’

A Corbyn government could jeopardize 250,000 jobs, the report said. Britain’s largest business partner in  the Middle East is the United Arab Emirates. The UK exports  $10  billion a year to the UAE. Number two is Saudi Arabia with $4.4 billion, followed by Qatar with $3.1 billion and Egypt and Israel both $1.5 billion.

The alleged unsavory activities of Qatar, an ally of Iran’s regime, the worst state-sponsor of terrorism, according to a US State Department report released on Friday, were cited in the Cornerstone risk analysis. “Recent allegations of Qatari banks being used for financing of terrorism will likely mean Qatar investment in the UK will be more cautious. As evidenced by their dominance in the tables above, Gulf markets comprise the key trade relationships for the UK in the MENA. There are over 100,000 Britons living in the UAE, over 26,000 in Saudi Arabia, and around 25,000 in Qatar, although most living in Qatar will likely leave after completion of FIFA World Cup construction projects.”

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