David Cameron criticised for taking second holiday amid British involvement in Iraq

The former head of the British Army and an ex-SAS soldier said Parliament should be recalled

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The Independent Online

Prime Minister David Cameron has today been criticised for taking a second summer holiday despite the crisis in Iraq.

As Cameron started a break with his family in Cornwall, the former head of the British Army said “the nation would expect” Parliament to be recalled to debate British involvement in Iraq.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, who was a defence adviser to the Prime Minster  after he retired as chief of the general staff in 2009, warned that MPs and Lords would get “very frustrated” if they did not get to address the situation before Parliament is due to sit again in October.

His concerns were backed by ex-SAS officer Chris Ryan, who has spoken of his fears for the UK if British people who have gone to Iraq and Syria to join Islamist extremists return home and continue their fight here

Mr Ryan, who served in the SAS for 10 years and was awarded a military medal, said Cameron should cancel his holiday and recall Parliament due to the seriousness of the situation in Iraq.

But the Prime Minister has insisted he remains in control and will be able to manage the Government's response from the South West.

Britain is poised to provide weapons to Kurdish troops fighting the “murderous extremists” of Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq as well as continued humanitarian aid.


Speaking from Cornwall, Sir Richard told BBC Breakfast: “I think Members of Parliament and members of the House of Lords will get very frustrated if they stay in recess through August and September until October.

"It is not the same as last year, the end of August, when there was a specific proposition that the British might support the Americans in bombing (Syrian president Bashar) Assad's chemical capability, that was a specific issue.

“But I think there will come a point as this general set of circumstances unfolds, when Parliament needs to come back together, people need to have a full debate about it and express their point of view.

"I think the nation would expect that. Everyone has private points of view, I think they need to be aired publicly, I think they need to be aired in Parliament and then I think the PM is going to have confidence that he has got Parliament behind him and hopefully a consensus across the political parties that we are doing the right thing."

Meanwhile Mr Ryan, who is now an author, told the Daily Mirror: "Without a shadow of a doubt Parliament should be recalled...this simply cannot wait.

“My biggest fear is when they (Islamist extremists) come back to the UK, Germany and France. They will join forces again and develop ways of bringing military grade explosives and weaponry.”

The 53-year-old said he strongly believes the SAS can overcome Islamic State (IS) fighters if they work alongside American special forces.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said yesterday the UK will not be “putting combat boots on the ground”, but Mr Ryan claimed it would take only small specialist units, rather than thousands of soldiers, to work strategically to defeat the IS fighters.

He said the threat is not confined to Iraq, and something needs to be done to prevent what he called the rise of a terrorist network that could exceed anything previously seen.

Additional reporting by Press Association