Labour may demand recall of Parliament

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The Independent Online
PRESSURE for the recall of Parliament over the offer to deploy British forces in Bosnia and Iraq has not been ruled out, Jack Cunningham, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said yesterday, as the Labour leadership faced growing criticism over its 'shabby' handling of foreign affairs.

Mr Cunningham said that the Labour leadership would review a demand for the recall of Parliament this week and hinted that it would take place if British forces came under fire in Bosnia or Iraq.

Mr Cunningham was responding to growing criticism from some of his own frontbench colleagues at the refusal to recall Parliament after last week's Cabinet decision to offer up to 1,800 British troops for UN deployment in Bosnia and six Tornados for enforcing the air exclusion zone in southern Iraq.

It is expected that the 'no fly' zone will be imposed tomorrow, while the fighting in Bosnia is escalating in advance of the peace conference to be hosted by John Major in London on Wednesday.

John Smith, the Labour leader, was consulted while on holiday in France by Mr Major after the decision. They agreed that Parliament did not need recalling.

But Tribune, the newspaper of the Labour left, then attacked the Labour front bench for 'shabby capitulation on Bosnia'.

Although it was dismissed as a fringe publication by Labour spokesmen, Clare Short, reappointed to a frontbench job by Mr Smith, joined the attack. The chairwoman of the Tribune group of Labour MPs said: 'I think it is true that there has been a failure by the Labour Party to generate any debate about some profoundly important foreign policy issues as though we lack the confidence to put an alternative.'

Mr Cunningham rejected her remarks yesterday on BBC radio as 'ill-informed and frankly wrong'.

The Government would have little option but to recall Parliament if the leader of the Opposition threw his weight behind the MPs who have been demanding it.