THE UK government must start 2018 with a new foreign policy approach that puts ethics over arms sales, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesperson claims.

Last year saw Westminster departments involved in a series of controversies involving relations with overseas governments, foreign conflicts and British citizens abroad.

Organisations such as Amnesty International condemned the continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and its allies involved in the ongoing war in Yemen. Suffering there is compounded by ongoing blockades on the imports the impoverished country relies upon for food, fuel and medicine, despite deadly outbreaks of cholera and other illnesses.

The Department for International Development was criticised for championing its multi-million pound aid programme in Yemen while the UK Government took billions in the sale of munitions to forces accused of committing war crimes in attacks on hospitals, schools and villages.

There was further criticism over the impact of the UK’s role in the global refugee crisis, with millions of people driven from their homes in Syria after MPs voted to take part in airstrikes there, with only a limited package to support those affected by the conflict.

North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins says these scandals, and the continued crisis involving the Rohingya people of Myanmar, mean change in the UK’s approach to foreign policy is now vital.

He said: “The past year has brought out some of the very worst in humanity, with the siege and starvation of Yemenis and Syrians and the appalling persecution of the Rohingya people. The New Year is unlikely to bring about celebration for them, as well as refugees in other countries in the world riddled with humanitarian strife. That is why it is so important that the UK Government rethinks its current foreign policy approach and instead pursues a strategy for long term peace-building and reconstruction efforts and policy driven by ethics and bringing about meaningful end to conflicts, rather than one fuelled by continued arms sales.

“In Yemen, we must play a role in pressuring the Saudis to end their inhumane blockade rather than advising on which target to hit next. In Syria, the UK’s role of simply adding more bombs has failed. Over 300,000 people have died, 6.6million people displaced within Syria, and another 4.8m people have sought refuge abroad. The UK must step back and urgently rethink its strategy, or lack of.

“Some of the UK’s actions in tackling the immediate humanitarian crisis in the region are to be welcomed but more needs to be done to work towards a long term strategy to bring about a lasting peace and step up to our responsibilities in tackling the worst refugee crisis since the end of the second world war.

“The UK’s legacy abroad must not be one stained by flawed foreign interventions, but one where the UK has upheld international law and engaged in bringing conflicts to an end.”

The UK Government was approached for comment.

Also in 2017, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was slammed by the family of Jagtar Singh Johal, the Scot allegedly tortured at the hands of Indian authorities, and relatives of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe over comments made by Boris Johnson. The government response to police violence against Catalan referendum voters also drew criticism, as did Johnson’s remarks about the removal of bodies from a Libyan beach to allow the development of a new luxury resort.