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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:22 pm on 26th February 2003.

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Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Conservative, Suffolk Coastal 3:22 pm, 26th February 2003

No, I really will not. Secondly, the wider world has not been convinced. Of course, we could be right to go to war even if neither of those groups were convinced, except that there has to be life after war. That is the problem. If we go to war in circumstances in which neither our own people nor the wider world are convinced, we will not be seen for what we believe ourselves to be, which is merely the handmaid of the United Nations and the enforcer of peace in circumstances in which there was no alternative.

The alternative is the issue. There can be no just war unless it is the only possibility. That is the number one explanation of the basis on which a nation may go to war. It defends itself because it can do nothing else. It goes to the aid of someone else because that person is being attacked. However, it must have an absolute assurance that it could not do anything else. That is why it is right to suggest that the case for military action against Iraq is as yet unproven.

Hans Blix believes that he can make great gains if he is given time. Of course, he cannot have a veto on the matter. I do not support those who suggest that he can go on asking for more time for as long as he likes. However, it is not unreasonable when a man has had 11 weeks in this stage of the process to give him some more time. People argue that Saddam Hussein has had enough time, but I am not asking for time for him: I am asking for time for Hans Blix, which is rather different.

We are now in a situation in which the western world—to some extent, the whole world—has devoted large resources to press, to squeeze and to demand of Saddam Hussein. We have not yet gone as far as we could, short of war. Much of what is being done could be enlarged, short of war, inexorably to press Saddam Hussein so that he knows that it is not the preamble to a gradual reduction of pressure, but the slow and certain steps that will lead in the end to war.