Brown says Parliament should decide when UK goes to war

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A final decision about going to war should be taken by Parliament not the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said yesterday.

A final decision about going to war should be taken by Parliament not the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said yesterday.

The Chancellor said the precedent set two years ago in allowing MPs to vote before the Iraq war should be a permanent feature. Currently the Prime Minister can invoke the royal prerogative to launch military action and bypass Parliament. "Now that there has been a vote on these issues so clearly and in such controversial circumstances, I think it is unlikely that except in the most exceptional circumstances a government would choose not to have a vote in Parliament," he told The Daily Telegraph. "I think Tony Blair would join me in saying that, having put this decision to Parliament, most people would expect these kinds of decisions to go before Parliament."

Meanwhile, Labour left-wingers said the Chancellor's decision to ride to the Prime Minister's rescue over Iraq increases the likelihood of a "stop Brown" campaign when Mr Blair steps down.

The Chancellor has previously indicated to friends he believes Tony Blair failed to consult the Cabinet properly and to provide enough information to the public or Parliament in the build-up to war in 2003. But Mr Brown gave a passionate defence of Mr Blair this week as the storm raged about the leak of the Attorney General's advice on the legality of war. He argued the Prime Minister had acted properly in the days before the invasion.

Several left-wingers said Mr Brown's intervention over Iraq had strengthened their resolve to rally behind a candidate to oppose him. One possibility is they will approach Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, to put himself forward.

One candidate defending a safe seat said: "Brown has signed a suicide pact by taking this approach. He has been bolted on to responsibility for Iraq." He added: "Apart from Robin Cook, none of the Cabinet appears to have raised any objections about the illegality."

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