Will we or won’t we be needed back in Westminster? With many MPs away on family holidays and the situation in Iraq unraveling by the day, the question as to whether Parliament should be recalled is an urgent and important one,.
If required, and as has happened several times in the last four years, I will be on the way home to debate, listen and vote on the appropriate course of action. In the meantime I am taking the chance to catch up with the children, plough through multiple books and relish life lived in the open air and sunshine of Spain.
But whether from sunny Spanish shores or the newly harvested fields of Wiltshire, the 24-hour news cycle means that the daily brutality of the factional fighting in the Middle East can’t be escaped.
Of course, the PM could steer a course of military action without seeking Parliamentary approval using the royal prerogative, but with a track record of listening to Parliament that included a “consultative” vote by MPs on the last Iraq conflict, and votes on Libyan air strikes as well as on Syria, it is inconceivable that any major escalation of the current conflict in Iraq – and any UK military response to it – would not be debated and voted upon at Westminster.
Once again the clash between a desire to use our highly trained and costly armed forces to help achieve a more secure world versus a national mood weary of gung-ho militarism will come to the fore. But before we get to that debate, our military resources are quite properly being put to use in a humanitarian effort, with British military aircraft preparing to drop tents and tarpaulins for those trapped in the Sinjar mountains to provide much-needed shelter from the elements, while the number of humanitarian advisers in Erbil will increase to provide better links to the situation on the ground.
A small number of Tornado jets are also being sent to the region – 100 years almost to the day since the Royal Flying Corps flew to their base in France for their first aerial deployment – and will be used, if required, to improve the UK’s surveillance capability rather than for any offensive purposes, while huge diplomatic pressure is bought to bear by the new Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond to ensure that a new and fully inclusive local government be formed quickly in order to respond to the crisis in Iraq.
In the meantime, we watch, wait and work out how to get home if we are needed.