by Stephen Tall on December 11, 2008
Lib Dem shadow foreign secretary Ed Davey has renewed the party’s call for an immediate public inquiry into British involvement in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the role played by UK troops in Iraq since 2003. Ed put the question direct to Foreign Secretary David Miliband in the Commons yesterday, following strong hints from the Ministry of Defence that it expected the 4,100 British troops left in Basra to be withdrawn from Basra during the course of 2009.
Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD): Given that both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have said that there will be a fundamental change in the British mission in Iraq, is it not now time to announce an inquiry into the Iraq war?
David Miliband: As the hon. Gentleman knows, we do support an inquiry into the origins of the Iraq war, when our troops are safely home. An hour and a half ago, very unfortunately, Members in all parts of the House had to come together to mourn the loss of a British soldier last Thursday. That shows the continuing danger that our troops face. It is important for us to have the inquiry, but it is also important for us to have the inquiry when our troops are safely home, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that that is our intention.
Nick Harvey, the Lib Dem shadow defence secretary, followed up Ed’s intervention a little later in the debate to confirm the Government’s intentions:
Nick Harvey: The Foreign Secretary has restated the position that the inquiry should take place when our troops have withdrawn. Is he seriously saying it must take place after the last man is out? I thought that the intention was to leave a few hundred there on a long-term basis even after we had withdrawn battlegroups next year. Surely we are not going to wait until the very end of that process.
David Miliband: No, we are not. We are not going to hide behind the idea that the last troop must have come home. We have always made it clear that our commitment is in respect of combat troops, and we intend to honour that commitment.