Recall of MPs is urged over ‘change’ to Libyan mission
David Cameron was last night facing demands for a recall of Parliament amid claims Britain was now pursuing an overt policy of “regime change” in Libya.
Tory and Labour MPs said the Government had gone beyond the mandate given in last month's Commons vote to protect civilians.
The calls followed the publication of a joint newspaper article by Mr Cameron, Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy saying that it would be an “unconscionable betrayal” if dictator Muammar Gaddafi was allowed to remain in power.
Three Tory backbenchers and two Labour said that MPs — currently on their Easter break — should now return to Westminster in order to have their say on the latest developments.
Conservative John Baron and Labour's Jeremy Corbyn said they had written to Commons Speaker John Bercow formally to request a recall.
Under Commons standing orders, the Speaker can order a recall at the request of a Government minister. Before the House rose last week, the Leader of the Commons Sir George Young said they would do so “if circumstances require it”.
However, Downing Street sources played down the prospects, insisting that the Government's position had not changed as a result of the newspaper article. But with Parliament not due to return until April 26, some MPs argued that was too long to wait.
“I feel that mission in Libya has changed quite significantly,” said Mr Baron, who was the only Conservative MP to vote against military action.
“When it was put before the House, the emphasis was very much on humanitarian assistance. This has changed into a mission of regime change. If one was being charitable one would say that this is ‘mission creep’. If one was being uncharitable, one would say this was always the underlying motive.”
David Davis, former shadow Home Secretary and former Tory leadership challenger, said that while he supported the Government's actions they went beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone approved by Parliament.
“The simple truth is that Parliament did not authorise the next phase,” he told the BBC.
Mr Corbyn, a veteran Labour leftwinger, said Mr Cameron's article confirmed that the Government was now pursuing a policy of regime change.
“I think it is a matter of such importance that Parliament should be recalled to debate the matter,” he said.
Meanwhile Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted Britain's Nato allies remained “very much on the same page” after alliance foreign ministers meeting in Berlin failed to agree on a call by the UK and France to send for more ground attack aircraft to step up air strikes on Gaddafi's forces.