Coffee House

What will Britain do to help the Yazidis? And will MPs get a say?

8 August 2014

2:29 PM

8 August 2014

2:29 PM

After President Obama announced air strikes against Isis and humanitarian aid drops to the Yazidis, British ministers have been clarifying the extent of their involvement in the response to the latest violence. Michael Fallon said this lunchtime that the UK government’s focus was on the humanitarian effort:

‘We welcome what the Americans are doing now to, in particular, to bring humanitarian relief, and to prevent any further suffering. But our focus is on assisting that humanitarian mission and using our military in support of the Americans in terms of refuelling and surveillance to underpin their missing and to add to it with food drops of our own.

‘Our focus is on assisting the Americans in this humanitarian effort, that’s what I reviewed with the Prime Minister this morning, that is what he asked us to take decisions on at the emergency meeting this morning, and that is what we are now offering in terms of specific support to the Americans.’

But there will be questions from MPs – whether they are generally in favour of intervention or not – about the full extent of the UK’s involvement in this latest action. Some may wish we could go further in assisting the US. Mark Pritchard, a Conservative backbencher with a keen interest in defence policy, tells Coffee House:

‘Any deployment of UK service personnel in support of military action is a serious decision. Therefore, the Prime Minister needs to give an early and detailed statement about the level of UK involvement and the associated military, diplomatic and political risks involved. If this requires Parliamentary scrutiny, then Parliament may need to be recalled at some point during the ongoing operations.’


This point about scrutiny is important: it’s not just for votes that Parliament sits, but to examine and draw out details from ministers who’d rather not give those details or be examined. Those who say that recalling Parliament would be pointless and expensive have a good point if there is to be no real British involvement in this situation. But others might argue that it suggests we’ve given up on MPs having any relevance or influence.

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Show comments
  • Picquet

    Probably the most stupid thing I’ve seen so far said was from one of Britain’s pixie-botherers; ‘Give them all asylum in the United Kingdom’ (or words to that effect).
    No wonder Christianity in Britain has such a bad name now.

  • Augustus

    The Islamic State is now so powerful, and its reputation as a fighting force so awesome, they’ve become unstoppable. They already control a 1000 mile border, have plenty of U.S. supplied weapons that their forces looted from every Iraqi military base they seized, and they not only control oilfields, but also now the Mosul dam, the largest water supply source in Iraq, which portends unspeakable crimes; such as the denial of electricity and water, or even creating catastrophic floods. But the worst part of all is that however long this caliphate lasts, Islamists around the world will treasure its moment of brutal glory and be inspired by it.

  • global city

    Cameron should send Baroness Warsi… she’s an objective mind in these issues of Islamist murder.

  • Barakzai

    As befits our status as one of the P5, ally-of-choice-for-the-USA, leading member of NATO and the EU and similar threadbare puffery from Government, we’ll be pulling out all the stops.

    So, expect one C-17 or one C-130 load of aid to go to Baghdad or Irbil – with photos of the plane plastered over the media – and a ‘fact-finding’ visit from someone extremely important in DfID. The Prime Minister will then sell this effort as UK continuing to punch above it’s international weight.

    The reality, of course, is that the Government wants to do as little as possible consistent with earning a meaningless pat on the head from Washington.

  • John_Page

    But others might argue that it suggests we’ve given up on MPs having any relevance or influence.

    After the Syria vote? “Others” would be silly.

  • dado_trunking

    We understand this was never the brief but is it in any way discussed to facilitate an environment in which the Kurdish people align to form their own state?

    • fundamentallyflawed

      If I understand it the Kurdish have an autonomy state anyway with Iraq. What made me laugh though was the American representative saying we need to support the Kurds with training. Surely that’s what we did with the army before we left

  • Blindsideflanker

    We will have to see if a minority are getting persecuted the British Government acts, or if it is only when a Muslim minority are getting persecuted, and certainly not when Muslims are doing the persecuting.