13 May 2003

Short resignation letter
Uk International development Secretary Clare Short has resigned from the Blair government. She says in her letter of resignation:

As you know, I thought the run-up to the conflict in Iraq was mishandled, but I agreed to stay in the government to help support the reconstruction effort for the people of Iraq.

I am afraid that the assurances you gave me about the need for a UN mandate to establish a legitimate Iraqi government have been breached.

The security council resolution that you and Jack [Straw, the foreign secretary] have so secretly negotiated contradicts the assurance I have given in the House of Commons and elsewhere about the legal authority of the occupying powers, and the need for a UN-led process to establish a legitimate Iraqi government. This makes my position impossible.

"I am sad and sorry that it has ended like this.

This is not rhetoric of the same order as Robin Cook's magnificent speech to the house of commons but it does tell us one thing. Blair gave assurances to his ministers about postwar reconstruction and has breached them, presumably at US instance. Still Blair also gave WMD assurances to the house of commons and deceiving parliament is worse than deceiving a cabinet minister.

Just quietly I also wonder why Australia and Poland are not listed as liberating occupying powers in the Blair/Straw resolution? Maybe some brave soul will ask a ministerial question when the federal parliament resumes today in Canberra.

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