Tony Blair More and More Isolated

Sunday, 09 March 2003 19:09 by: Anonymous

     Editor's Note:  The compromised resolution described in another of today's truthout stories also comes out of a deepening and potentially explosive rift within Blair's government.  If Blair fails to get a second UN resolution passed, his administration will become sorely troubled from within. - wrp

     Tony Blair More and More Isolated
     Paris Le Monde | Reuters

     Sunday 9 March 2003

     Blair's government must be expecting a wave of resignations if he has to engage in an Iraq offensive without UN approval, the Sunday morning British press predicts. Shortly thereafter, the Parliamentary Private Secretary of the British Environment Minister announced he was leaving his position.

     British Labor MP, Andrew Reed, in disagreement with the Iraq policies of Prime Minister Tony Blair, announced his resignation from the cabinet of Environment Minister, Margaret Beckett in a press release Sunday March 9.

     Mr. Reed, who has not resigned his parliamentary mandate, occupied the Parliamentary Private Secretary, PPS position, of unpaid assistant to the Minister, which is the first level of ministerial responsibility. This resignation symbolizes the malaise that Tony Blair's Iraq policy and position as the most faithful ally of the U.S. in this crisis has generated in Labor's ranks.

     "Without a clear UN mandate I fear that the consequences (of a military action) would be too disastrous to contemplate ", explains Andrew Reed on his internet site.  "I am not a pacifist with confused ideas about the threat weapons of mass destruction represent, but I have not been convinced that 'doing something' necessarily means going to war ", continues the MP.

     Mr. Reed's announcement comes on the day several British newspapers maintain that Prime Minister Tony Blair is threatened by a wave of resignations in the heart of his government should Great Britain participate in a war against Iraq without UN approval. With supporting quotations from those concerned, the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday edition of the conservative paper, The Daily Telegraph, claims this morning that five MPs, all charged with the government function of Private Parliamentary Secretary, are ready to resign their positions should there be a war without a UN resolution specifically authorizing military intervention. Andrew Reed's was one of the names cited by the London newspaper.

     Another potential resignee, Anne Campbell, member of Commerce Secretary, Patricia Hewitt's cabinet, considers that it would "very difficult (for her) to support the government without an adequate UN resolution. " "At some point, one must decide what is good or bad. It's a question of recognizing the United Nations' authority ", declared Michael Jabez Foster, who works with Attorney General (Justice Minister) Lord Goldsmith. Moreover, the paper does not exclude the possibility that these resignations be merely the preamble to more serious defections for Tony Blair, and offers Robin Cook, Labor Head in the Chamber of Commons, as a possible name.

     Another Sunday paper, the Sunday Times, puts forward as many as ten resignations in the case of a war without UN support. The paper adds in this case the figure of some 200 MPs of the 412 in Mr. Blair's Labor party, who will vote for a movement of censure against the Iraq policy of the Prime Minister in the case of a conflict not approved by a new UN resolution. February 26, a motion in the Chamber of Commons which deemed a war against Iraq without foundation, which was voted down by 393 to 199 votes, garnered the votes of 121 Labor MPs.

     The situation appears extremely delicate for the British Prime Minister, who also does not enjoy popular support for his Iraq policy. In its Sunday edition, The Independent, a daily with a circulation of 230 000, launched a "Not in Our Name, Mr. Blair" campaign, the preamble of which is: "You don't have proof. You don't have UN approval. You don't have the country's support. You don't have your party's support. You don't have a legal right or a moral right. You must not drag Great Britain, against its will, into George Bush's unjust and useless war."


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     Short will quit if Britain goes to war without UN resolution
     By Paul Waugh
     Independent UK

     Monday 10 March 2003

     Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, stunned the Government last night by declaring she would resign from the Cabinet if Tony Blair went to war on Iraq without a new UN mandate.

     Ms Short warned Mr Blair that he was being "extraordinarily reckless" with global security and his own future as Prime Minister by thinking of going it alone with President George Bush.

     Coming as he launches a last push for a second UN resolution, the timing and bitterness of her remarks will infuriate Mr Blair and are bound to provoke calls for her dismissal.

     When asked on BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour if she would quit if there was no new UN resolution, she replied: "Absolutely, there's no question about that." And she added another condition for her to remain in post: that the rebuilding of Iraq had to be led by the UN rather than the US.

     Ms Short said: "If there is not UN authority for military action or if there is not UN authority for the reconstruction of the country, I will not uphold a breach of international law or this undermining of the UN and I will resign from the Government."

     The Prime Minister's official spokesman made clear Downing Street's surprise at the remarks, pointing out that she had not made such views clear to Mr Blair, even in private.

     Ms Short will face claims that she set out to undermine Mr Blair after it emerged that the interview was unplanned and she initiated the contact with the BBC.

     Meanwhile Mr Blair suffered his first resignation over the issue yesterday when Andrew Reed, parliamentary private secretary to Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, quit in protest at the lack of time being given to UN weapons inspections.

     Government sources have in recent weeks claimed that Ms Short would not resign over the issue and wanted to work to achieve the best humanitarian situation possible in a conflict. But Ms Short said it was "time for cards on the table" and insisted she could not stay in government and "defend the indefensible".

     Asked whether Mr Blair had acted recklessly, she said: "I'm afraid that I think the whole atmosphere of the current situation is deeply reckless: reckless for the world; reckless for the undermining of the UN in this disorderly world ... reckless with our Government; reckless with his own future, position and place in history. It's extraordinarily reckless, I'm very surprised by it."

     She added: "Allowing the world to be so bitterly divided, the division in Europe, the sense of anger and injustice in the Middle East is very, very dangerous. We're undermining the UN, it's a recruiting sergeant for terrorism, there's a risk of a divided world, with a weakened UN."

     Ms Short, who resigned from Labour's opposition front bench over the party's support for the Gulf War in 1991, said that after a cabinet meeting two weeks ago, Mr Blair's press office declared "absolutely rock solid" backing from fellow ministers, despite Ms Short making clear her concerns over a second resolution.

     "What worries me is that we have detailed discussions either personally or in the Cabinet and then the spin the next day is: 'We're ready for war.' So I'm worried now that people like me are being told, 'Yes, all this is under consideration,' but we're on a different path."

     Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external relations, said Britain and the US would not be able to call on EU funding for the reconstruction of Iraq if they attacked and occupied the country without a UN mandate.

     In an interview with The Independent, Mr Patten said it would be politically impossible for the EU to make money available to rebuild Iraq, given the divisions that have emerged over how to disarm Saddam Hussein.
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