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[casi] FW: Blunkett warns Blair of riots in Britain over Iraq

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Blunkett warns Blair of riots in Britain over Iraq
By Francis Elliott, Deputy Political Editor
(Filed: 17/03/2002)

DAVID BLUNKETT, the Home Secretary, has warned Tony Blair that military
action in Iraq could provoke serious civil disorder in Britain.

His message to the Cabinet came amid increasing unease among Labour MPs
and European Union leaders at the Prime Minister's support for the US
stance against Saddam Hussein.

A senior minister told The Telegraph that Mr Blunkett was concerned that
an attack on Iraq would spark riots in the Middle East that could spread
to Britain. Mr Blunkett reportedly told colleagues: "We cannot separate
Iraq from the Middle East or we will have major disturbances both
internationally and in Britain."

He briefed the Cabinet on the domestic consequences of joining a US
military strike at a recent meeting. Muslim leaders last night backed
the suggestion that tensions raised by the continuing violence in the
Middle East could lead to rioting in the event of a UK attack on Iraq.

One of the authors of the Government's official report into last
summer's race riots in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham said there was a
groundswell of resentment at Mr Blair's stance on the issue.

Ahtsham Ali, a member of the Home Office community cohesion review team,
said: "Muslim youths were angry and frustrated at the action in
Afghanistan; that frustration may lead to further incidents if there is
action in Iraq."

Meanwhile, Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission, said
that the EU might formally oppose military intervention, a clear
indication that Mr Blair faces isolation on his support for President

The Prime Minister, however, denied that he lacked any support at this
weekend's European summit in Barcelona. "This issue has not been the
dominant issue at this summit. We are not at the point of decision on
this, or near it. When we are, I have no doubt we will discuss things
closely," he said.

Donald Anderson, the Labour chairman of the Commons foreign affairs
select committee, added that the Government should not be deflected from
joining the US in attacking Iraq if that was judged to be in the
national interest.

"We cannot hold back from actions that we believe are necessary because
a portion of the community may be offended by it," he said.

16 March 2002: Germany leads revolt against Iraq attack 15 March 2002:
100 MPs back protest over strikes on Iraq 11 March 2002: Short's
anti-war stand reveals split on Iraq 9 March 2002: US boost for Blair
after Cabinet row over Iraq tactics7 March 2002: Countdown to war on
Saddam 1 March 2002: Blair backs Bush on 'evil' of Iraq

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