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PM wins MP support for Libya action

David Cameron has won the overwhelming support of the House of Commons for his decision to commit British forces to the international military effort in Libya.

MPs voted by 557 to 13, majority 544, in favour of the use of the armed forces to implement the United Nations Security Council resolution passed last week which authorised "all necessary measures" to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone.

The Prime Minister sought to allay fears that the UK would get into a protracted conflict by telling MPs: "This is not going to be another Iraq."

He said "good progress" had been made in wiping out Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's air defences and that action by US, UK and French planes and naval vessels had helped avert a "bloody massacre" in the rebel stronghold Benghazi.

Mr Cameron acknowledged that some doubted the need for British involvement in Libya.

But he said: "If Gaddafi's attacks on his own people succeed, Libya will become once again a pariah state festering on Europe's border, a source of instability, exporting terror beyond her borders. A state from which literally hundreds of thousands of citizens could seek to escape, putting huge pressure on us in Europe.

"We should also remember that Gaddafi is a dictator who has a track record of violence and of support for terrorism against our country - the people of Lockerbie, for instance, know what this man is capable of.

"So I am clear: taking action in Libya, together with our partners, is clearly in our national interest."

Although there was significantly less division in the Commons than over the decision to take on Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq, Mr Cameron was keen to stress the differences from the earlier bloody conflict. The UN resolution "makes it quite clear there will be no foreign occupation of Libya", Mr Cameron said.

Labour leader Ed Miliband supported the action against Gaddafi's regime, but he added: "We should be clear in this House about the degree of difficulty of what we are attempting: to secure a coalition from beyond western powers to support intervention in another North African state. And we cannot afford mission creep, therefore - including in our public pronouncements."

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