Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Spring Council Resolution on Iraq

Delivered in Plenary - March 26th 2003

Mr President,

There is no split between Europe and the USA, as it is claimed. Instead, the split is between France and Germany, principally, and 19 other pro-US new European governments. Efforts must now be made to tone down the rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic. I salute the courage of EU candidate countries who have backed the coalition with specialist forces.

At a meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy last week, Britain was accused of being a rogue state headed by a war criminal. This shows the 'Alice in Wonderland' level the debate has now reached. By joining forces with Germany in the way it did, France has alienated America, undermined the UN, sent the wrong signals - signals of division - to Baghdad and exposed the impossibility of ever achieving a single foreign and security policy.

Saddam Hussein has attempted illegally to acquire weapons of mass destruction for years. Regime change is the only way to ensure a disarmed and peaceful Iraq and prevent ongoing brutalisation of its people by the Butcher of Baghdad. The Allies will install a representative government and must prevent refugees flowing out and instability in the region, as well as facilitating the return of the Iraqi diaspora to rebuild their country in safety. We must guarantee that its massive oil wealth be used to build prosperity for its peoples, not for arms purchases.

This war is morally and politically justifiable and its legality is vested in current UN Security Council Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. However, the appeasers in this House might like to explain why they embraced a war in Kosovo that involved no weapons of mass destruction or threats to neighbouring states and that had no UN authority whatsoever, and yet find it so difficult to take action against a genocidal dictator who has started two wars responsible for the deaths of almost a million people and who has gassed his own people. We must end this tyranny and free the Iraqi people once and for all.

On the Lisbon Process, I am delighted that the single market and the need for regulatory impact assessments is now back on the agenda. My party will continue to oppose tax harmonisation. Nevertheless, in this area in particular, action will speak louder than words.