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Nick Clegg discusses the recall of Parliament

September 24, 2014 6:26 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

On Friday Parliament is to be recalled to debate Britain joining the coalition of nations who have launched air strikes against the ISIL terrorist organisation in Iraq.

Earlier today Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gave an interview to broadcasters to discuss this issue.

Watch the interview in full below.

INTERVIEWER

What is the case you'll be putting to your party?

NICK CLEGG

When this issue is debated and voted on in parliament on Friday, the Liberal Democrats will support the airstrikes in Iraq for the following reasons: firstly because it is legal, it's been requested by the Iraqi government to help them rid themselves of the threat of ISIL; secondly it's part of a much bigger coalition, a whole array of countries crucially including a number of Arab countries which deprives ISIL of the ability to somehow portray it as a West versus the rest crusade; thirdly it will not now nor in the future involve British combat forces on the ground; and fourthly because the decision will only be taken after a debate and a vote in the House of Commons, not just by the Government - on behalf of the country as a whole. I think there are many people across the country who see what this medieval murderous organisation does, slaughtering people regardless of their ethnicity or their religion; an organisation which is actively plotting to do us harm in this country. I think most people across the country want the British Government to play our part in ridding the world of this vile threat.

INTERVIEWER

You speak very confidently but it was a bruising defeat last time. Nothing is different this time?

NICK CLEGG

In many ways the decision that Parliament will be taking on Friday is clearer and simpler than on previous occasions. Principally because this is a plea for help that has been issued by the legitimate government in Iraq to the outside world. It is fully legal and there is no ambiguity about the threat we're facing. We've seen this barbaric organisation behead British citizens; we've seen this barbaric organisation slaughter other Muslims; we've seen this barbaric organisation somehow declare that anyone that doesn't believe in their warped extremist view of the world somehow has to be put to death. We know what the threat is; we know that it's a threat not just posed in the region, which is why there are so many other Arab countries that are taking the lead in thwarting ISIL, it is also a threat to our way of life here because there is active plotting by ISIL to do damage to countries in Europe as well. And that is why I think the vast majority of people - that is in my view what will be reflected in the debate on Friday - will want the British Government - not to try and do everything - but to play our part, our decent part, in ridding the world of such a vile and violent threat.

INTERVIEWER

Have you taken the pulse of your party? Do you have their backing

NICK CLEGG

I'm absolutely sure having spoken to colleagues over many many weeks, that Liberal Democrats like any reasonable person in Britain today doesn't' want Britain simply to sort of stand on the sidelines and wash its hands of the international effort that is now underway to crush and extinguish what is a uniquely violent and barbaric threat, not only to our way of life but most especially to the countries in the region itself.

INTERVIEWER

Political will might have changed, but public mood hasn't?

NICK CLEGG

I think the vast majority of people in this country accept that there are times, not on our own, but working in concert with other countries when we do our bit to keep the world safe, to keep ourselves safe. And I think this is one of those instances. We don't need any more evidence about the threat that we face. This is an organisation that chooses to behead our fellow citizens on television. We don't need any more evidence about what a vile and murderous outfit ISIL is. We don't need any more pleas of help from the Iraqi government. That has been made abundantly clear by the new Iraqi government. And we don't need any more evidence. But we will be doing so, not on our own, not in some sort of West versus the Rest conflict, but actually in support of a number of Arab nations in the region who have already sought to take military action against ISIL and we are there to help them.

INTERVIEWER

Already been 'collateral damage'. What would you say to the parents of those children dying because of Western intervention?

NICK CLEGG

I think what any parent would say to their children, or any grandparent would say to their grandchildren, is they don't want the next generation to have to live in a world where there's a constant threat of random, brutal, murder and violence by such a fanatical, such a vile organisation as ISIL. The whole world is united, and you've seen that in the United Nations this week, against ISIL. The question is now, are we as a country prepared to play our part, not to provide a solution on our own to this - but are we prepared to play our part in concert with many many other countries to say to ISIL you are threatening us all and we will stand against you together and take action against you now and in the months to come.

INTERVIEWER

You've mentioned caveats - by air only. Military strategists will have told you that boots will be needed on the ground in Iraq and possibly Syria?

NICK CLEGG

Of course air strikes on their own are not a solution to this. That is why we've been supporting the Peshmerga in the Kurdish region of North Iraq. That's why we're working with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi army so that they can play their role on the ground as we provide assistance that they can't provide themselves from the air. That is the whole point - we're not doing this in a way that pretends everything can be solved at the push of a button in the Pentagon or the Ministry of Defence; we're not pretending that we have all the answers; we're not pretending that we're going to put combat forces on the ground - others will be doing the ground operation. We're simply saying that Britain should play its part in a wide constellation of other countries and other efforts in order to rid the world of this vile, evil threat.