According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the UK has sold more than £5.6 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since 2010, including combat aircraft worth £1.7 billion last May.
The arms trade also receives generous state backing. The UK Trade and Industry Defence and Security Organisation, which exists to promote arms sales, gets far more funding than other UKTI sectors, even though the arms trade is responsible for only 1.5 per cent of UK exports.
Public money is also funnelled via universities. According to the CAAT, theUniversity of Liverpool gave £17.5 million to military projects between 2001 and 2006. Portsmouth University has strong ties with the arms trade; a Freedom of Information request in August 2014 revealed that since 2011 the university had received £490,000 from BAE Systems and £23,000 from GKN Aerospace for ‘industrial consultancy and industrial research’. BAE Systems and Qinetiq are working with the university and Portsmouth City Council to establish a new technical college in September 2017. The University of Glasgow has invested £1.3 million in BAE Systems; the University of Sheffield received almost £30 million from arms companies between 2010 and 2015, according to a Freedom of Information request by the Free University of Sheffield campaign.