Update: Blair tries to explain why he is blocking the UK government's inquiry into the BAE/Saudi scandal.
The prime minister, speaking to reporters in Brussels, said that allowing the inquiry to continue risked doing “immense damage” to UK interests. Britain has been accused of caving in to pressure from Saudi Arabia to stop the investigation into a multi-billion dollar defence deal with Riyadh. Shares in BAE have surged on the news.Call me a Saudi-basher if you will -- I'll gladly accept the title if you mean the al-Saud family -- but it's getting rather tiring seeing both Arab and Western governments being corrupted by Saudi Arabia's wasteful spending.
Mr Blair appeared to concede that the threat to thousands of jobs from losing a prospective Saudi jet fighter contract had played a part in his thinking.
The prime minister’s official spokesman did not deny this was the case. However, he insisted that Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, decided to end the inquiry on security grounds and because of uncertainty over whether the case would lead to a prosecution.