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[casi] Commons to have no say on Iraq

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Assyrian News Watch
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Assyrian Chaldean Syriac


The Sotsman

Thu 25 Jul 2002

The Prime Minister did not diminish speculation that he would not seek
Commons' approval for a military strike against Iraq.

Commons to have no say on Iraq

Fraser Nelson Westminster Editor

TONY Blair yesterday made it clear he will not seek the Commonsí permission
before agreeing to join the US in any attack on Iraq.

In the last Prime Ministerís Question Time before the summer recess, Mr
Blair said MPs would be "consulted" - but indicated that this will happen
after the decision is taken.

His words left several Labour MPs concerned that Britain will already be in
a state of war when they return in October.

The Prime Minister was asked a barrage of questions about Iraq yesterday
from back-benchers - three at the morning meeting of the Parliamentary
Labour Party and then three in the Commons. The issue, he said, is
premature, adding: "We have not got to the stage of military action. If we
do get to that stage at any point in time we will, of course, make sure
that parliament is properly consulted."

When Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House, asked whether such consultation
would happen before or after an attack, Mr Blair replied: "When the
decision is made, we will consider the best way to consult the House - in
the normal way and in the normal circumstances."

Later, Mr Blairís official spokesman was asked whether this confirmed that
the decision will precede any consultation. He replied: "The Prime Minister
ís words speak for themselves."

He added, however, that Mr Blairís tongue had slipped when he said "when a
decision is made", rather than "if".

Mr Dalyell said afterwards that the Commons had broken up in no doubt about
Mr Blairís intentions.

He said: "It is wrong that this country should, in cold blood rather than
as a reaction to some event, commit itself to using military force without
a very clear debate."

He denied that such a debate would give Iraq a clear warning about Britainí
s intention. "Theyíve been talking about attacking Iraq for months."

Mr Blair is under no constitutional obligation to ask the approval of
either parliament or the Queen to take Britain into an armed conflict.

Political assent in the US was secured under President Clinton, who signed
an order committing the country to toppling Saddam Hussein.

No member of the United Nations can declare war formally, or attack another
nation. Under the UN Charter, only its Security Council can authorise the
use of force.

Diane Abbot, one of Labourís main opponents of war on Iraq, yesterday asked
Mr Blair whether he agreed with Dr Rowan Williams, the new Archbishop of
Canterbury, that "it would be wrong to go to war with Iraq without a fresh
and distinct United Nations mandate".

Mr Blair appeared to agree, saying any move on Iraq would be "legally
justified". He added: "We will make sure that, if we get to the point of
action, it is."

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