Monday, 21 March 2011
The Commons votes to support the intervention in Libya
JAMES FORSYTH 10:41pm
The House of Commons has just voted by 557 to 13 to support Britain’s participation in the enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. This came at the end of six and a half hours of respectful debate rounded off by a speech from the Foreign Secretary that reminded us why he was for so long regarded as the best parliamentary performer on either side of the House.
Hague offered an assurance that if the mission changes, the government will return to the House. This was widely understood to mean that no ground troops would be committed without the support of the House. He also confirmed that the costs of the operation would be met from the reserve.
Having watched much of the debate, I would say that the mood of the House was not quite as the vote suggests. There were a large number of interventions that expressed some concern or scepticism about Britain’s participation in the mission.
The longer this conflict goes on, the louder the demands for an exit strategy will become. This might seem absurd given that the operation only started on Saturday. But with Britain having been in Afghanistan for close to a decade now there is real nervousness in the Commons about this country getting dragged into another potentially long-running conflict.