British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to the Saudi Arabia is her first foreign visit post triggering Article-50, the mechanism that formally begins the process of taking the United Kingdom (UK) out of European Union (EU). It comes in the midst of a flurry of activity, as other high-ranking government officials also jet off to several countries to negotiate a post-brexit economic vision for Britain. The government claims that this is the start of a “truly global Britain”; and while that may well become true for the breath of its economic engagements, their nature and the role they play in global politics strike a worrying tone for those who view the country as a proponent of human rights.

Britain’s attempts at diversifying its trade are common sense given its predicament; however, the hard fact is that making a meaningful change in how Britain trades and with who will take decades. The vast majority of its trade is with the United States and those relations will continue to be the mainstay of consumer trading. Theresa May’s visit to Saudi Arabia has been to shore up a different kind of export – weapons.

The British support of the Saudi war in Yemen and the current blockade of the country has drawn much criticism. Yemen has seen a mushrooming number of civilian deaths at the hands of bombing runs – which drop British bombs – and human rights groups have raised the possibility of Saudi war crimes in the ravaged country. Her visit to Saudi Arabia to sign a strengthened, and highly lucrative, arms deal is seen by many to be a preference of the economic over the humanitarian.

In fact this has become the hallmark of her regime so far, she has agreed arms deals with controversial governments like Erdogan’s Turkey and Duterte’s Philippines while staying silent about their rights abuses. In reality the “truly global Britain” is set to become a global arms exporter and lose the mantle of global human rights protector.