Blair to leave way open for recall of Commons
Monday 25 July 2005
Mr Blair will not rule out an early recall when he holds his monthly press conference at Downing Street tomorrow. There is growing alarm at the handling of the terrorism crisis at home from Muslim leaders worried about the "shoot-to-kill" policy and MPs dismayed that they are denied the opportunity of answering questions. "Tony will leave open the option of recalling Parliament," a senior minister told The Independent. "He will not rule it out."
Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has delayed going on holiday to avoid criticism of deserting his post at a time of crisis. He will join his family later.
Richard Caborn, the Sports minister, has persuaded the Italian football team Inter Milan to reverse its decision to cancel a visit to Britain. Inter had announced on Saturday that it was cancelling the three-match tour because of safety fears. Ministers feared the decision would wreck No 10's efforts to show that in spite of the attacks, Britain was open for "business as usual". Mr Caborn said: "I've intervened and got them to come. It shows there should be no compromise with terrorism."
MPs are not due back at Parliament until October. But normally loyal MPs criticised the Government for carrying on with the recess without giving them the chance to question ministers. Mike Gapes, Labour chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, said: "I personally have unease in general ... I think we will be back during this recess and it's important we are because we need to have statements from ministers on what progress is being made."
Senior cabinet ministers toned down their denials that the war in Iraq was not linked with the bombing campaign in Britain for the first time yesterday.
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, who had earlier ruled out any link, conceded on BBC Radio that a link was possible. He said: "It's impossible to say for certain. What I do know is that this terrorism began many years ago ... well before the military action in Iraq."
Interviewed in today's Independent, Geoff Hoon, who was Defence Secretary at the time of the Iraq war, admitted that the US and Britain underestimated the level of violent resistance after the invasion. Mr Hoon, now the Leader of the House of Commons, said: "What we didn't do, I accept, was properly anticipate the level of violence people were prepared to use to oppose the creation of a democratic society. I don't think we appreciated the level of fanaticism and sheer anarchic violence people were prepared to employ."
Mr Hoon denied there was a lack of planning in Washington or London for the aftermath of the 2003 invasion. But he said: "With the benefit of hindsight, I don't think we quite appreciated that the insurgents were prepared to stop people having clean drinking water, were prepared to shut down the power supplies and damage the future of Iraq's economy."
Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, said the invasion of Iraq had "undoubtedly" boosted terrorism. But Downing Street officials said Mr Blair would reject any timetable for British withdrawal.
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