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Coffee House

The Commons is finally talking about Iraq. Will anyone notice?

18 June 2014

1:36 PM

18 June 2014

1:36 PM

PMQs last week took place just hours after Mosul had fallen to ISIS. But despite this, not a single MP asked Cameron what the government’s position on the situation in Iraq was.

Today, though, Ed Miliband devoted all six questions to the topic. There was much consensus between Cameron and Miliband but one doubts that the governments in either Baghdad or Tehran will take much notice of what was said in the Chamber. Indeed, the Commons seemed oddly passive about the exchanges as if everyone was aware of the limits to Britain’s ability to influence the situation.

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One thing that remains striking is Cameron’s conviction that a terrorist enclave in Iraq would be a direct threat to Britain. He warned the Commons that elements in ISIS are ‘planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom’. It remains to be seen if this analysis is based on hard intelligence or simply an analysis of ISIS’s motivations.

The political excitement of the session came when Ben Bradshaw mockingly asked the Prime Minister how his campaign to stop Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming president of the European Commission was going. A fired up Cameron replied that this was a matter of principle and that he would fight it to the end. He also implied that fellow EU leaders needed to have the courage to follow through in public on their private doubts about Juncker.

The conventional wisdom at the moment is that Juncker will get the Commission presidency. I am not quite so sure of that, though, Britain is not the only country with doubts about him and if there is a vote, some of these other countries might well be flushed out. ​

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