THE head of the War Child charity has accused Westminster of “ building a post-Brexit economy over the bodies of dead children” over a new military cooperation deal.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia signed the deal in Red Sea port city Jeddah earlier this week.

The agreement aims to “promote cooperation” between the UK and the Gulf kingdom across defence and security sectors.

It will also help Saudi Arabia protect its national security through counter-terrorism, intelligence, training and education, medical services and logistics.

Commenting, Fallon said the security of Saudi Arabia and other member of the Gulf Cooperation Council is “critical to UK security”, adding: “I am delighted to have signed today with HRH the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia a new military and security cooperation agreement between our two countries; this agreement further cements the UK’s long standing relationship with our key Gulf partner.”

But yesterday War Child chief executive officer Rob Williams issued a strongly-worded condemnation of the deal. The statement comes days after the organisation’s report into the value of UK-Saudi arms sales over the war in Yemen.

Williams said: “This deal shows deep disregard for Yemen’s children as well as sending a loud message that arrogantly ignores the public outcry around the issue.

“The UK Government claims to be building a ‘global Britain’ and seeking new trade relationships in the post-Brexit era. But at what cost?

“While more than half a million people have cholera and there are 2.9 million displaced in Yemen, continuing to arm the perpetrators of alleged war crimes amounts to building a post-Brexit economy over the bodies of dead children.

“To add complications and increasing seem to put profit before people, days before Fallon signed with Saudi Arabia, a deal was brokered to provide 24 Typhoon Fighter Jets to Qatar as tensions are rising between the two nations. As conflict deepens in the Middle East, the UK is profiting by arming both sides.

“As a charity that deals with the devastating effects of conflict every day it deeply saddens me to see that Britain’s only trading motivation is financial, with a cost of human lives left out of the calculations. It goes against all the values and morals which Britain has been proud of for so long.”

The development comes ahead of the publication of the UN annual report on children and armed conflict.

War Child said the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is expected to be included on that list for “grave violations against children”.

The charity said that if this comes to pass and “breaches of international humanitarian law have been formally recognised, it will be even more morally questionable for the UK to continue to arm Saudi Arabia while the Yemeni conflict continues”.

The fight sees the international coalition fighting on the side of Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi against Houthi rebels also accused of war crimes.

The country is suffering the world’s worst cholera epidemic, 17 million people are food insecure and an estimated 3m children are in urgent need of treatment for malnutrition.

At the United Nations yesterday, Hadi said his government seeks “sustainable peace, fair and strong that cannot relapse”.

He went on: “We are ending our third year of the war imposed on our country by the Houthis. The rebels have swept the cities of Yemen and taken the entire country hostage.”