Boris Johnson won’t be at PMQs to face Keir Starmer today: Why will the PM be absent?

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet leaders in Saudi Arabia to try and build an “international coalition” against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Mr Johnson will discuss securing energy supplies from the region, saying the world needed to “wean itself off” Russian oil and gas.

When the PM landed in the United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday morning, he was met by British Ambassador to the UAE Patrick Moody, at Abu Dhabi airport.

Mr Johnson was then guided through a guard of honour to mark his arrival.

His first meeting will be with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, before he travels to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Speaking ahead of the visit, the PM said: “The brutal and unprovoked assault President Putin has unleashed on Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences for the world, well beyond Europe’s borders.

“The UK is building an international coalition to deal with the new reality we face.

“The world must wean itself off Russian hydrocarbons and starve Putin’s addiction to oil and gas.

“Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key international partners in that effort.

“We will work with them to ensure regional security, support the humanitarian relief effort and stabilise global energy markets for the longer term.”

Downing Street said Mr Johnson would also discuss “shared strategic priorities with the leaders of the UAE and Saudi Arabia”, including the situation in Iran and Yemen, trade and human rights.

However, the PM has faced criticism for going on the trip due to the Saudi Government’s human rights record.

Last Saturday, they carried out a mass execution of 81 men in one day.

Some of the individuals killed were charged with belonging to the Islamic State group (IS), al-Qaeda or the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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They were accused of plotting attacks on vital economic targets, killing or targeting members of the security forces, kidnapping, torture, rape and smuggling weapons into the country.

According to the Saudi state news agency SPA, the latest group had been tried by 13 judges and gone through a three-stage judicial process.

Saturday’s figure represented more executions than the Arab state carried out in the entirety of 2021.

Shadow climate and net zero secretary, Ed Miliband, said it was “a sign of our vulnerability and energy insecurity as a country” that the PM “felt it necessary to go to Saudi Arabia” in spite of human rights issues.

He added: “Once again it demonstrates that the best solution to the energy crisis we face is a green energy sprint at home so once and for all we end our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Prime Minister Questions (PMQs) traditionally take place every Wednesday in the UK, with incumbent PM Boris Johnson answering questions from MPs and the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

Beginning at 12pm, it’s the duty of the Prime Minister to attend PMQs in the House of Commons.

The session allows politicians to raise questions with Mr Johnson about a particular issue, or that are related to a query, which has been brought to their attention by a constituency member.

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