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Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative leader
Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative leader
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: IAIN DUNCAN SMITH MP, CONSERVATIVE LEADER LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2001

DAVID FROST:
And now we're joined by Iain Duncan Smith, congratulations on being the new Tory Leader.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Thank you.

DAVID FROST:
And this is indeed your first television interview as leader I think.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
It is, it is.

DAVID FROST:
None of us could have imagined that the subject of it would be these tragic events, what's the most important thing for Britain to do now?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Oh I think there's no question that Britain has a vital role here and I said this in the House the other day, we are in essence the vitally important friend and ally of the United States, our early, and the Prime Minister's early statement of that and of our intent to stand by them was critical. It's also critical that we show the rest of, the rest of the world that we won't be parted from them, we won't allow a glimmer of daylight between us so that we not only┐

DAVID FROST:
Not a glimmer of daylight?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Not a glimmer of daylight and that's the leadership role that I think the Prime Minister must now play.

DAVID FROST:
Do you think we should expect to be consulted in advance, I mean we were talking to Henry Kissenger there about the fact that there's a limit to which you can discuss in advance a surprise attack, obviously, would you expect us to be consulted or just basically do what the Americans tell us they'd like to do?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
No, no, no, this is a two-way process, Britain's role with America has always been one of a great friend and counsellor as America has been to Britain so the Prime Minister will have every right to expect and I think anyway will be consulted and his ministers will be consulted at the highest level, I'm sure of that because they value our opinion on these things.

DAVID FROST:
In addition to surveillance and air bases and Cruise missiles and so on, would you respond to a request for ground troops, British ground troops in a positive way or not?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Yeah I think the thing here that, David, that everyone's got to understand. This was a strike not just against America, it was a strike against the civilised values that we all uphold and represent and even worse than that we could have one in ten of the total casualty list that are actually British citizens. So we're in this together because this is a strike against Britain as much as anything else so if there is a need and if the government believes rightly that they need to stand beside America in action then I certainly would support the use of British troops, providing obviously we felt that this was in our best interests, which I'm sure it will be.

DAVID FROST:
That's very clear, and in terms, France and Germany came up trumps in the first words on Tuesday, Wednesday and so on, according to the Guardian yesterday and so on they've been just rowing back a bit in terms of their commitment they're making. Do you think that's a pity?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well I hope it's only just a glimmer because what the terrorists, people of evil who have committed these acts and they can be anywhere, and this is not a war by the way, against Islam, this is a war against people who have evil intent, who commit terrorist acts. Now if they see a glimmer of light, if they see the beginnings of a break, or the fracturing of an alliance, this will give them great cause to realise that they're on the route to actual success. So my only message to others is be like Britain has been, make sure America does not get isolated, make sure we stand together and as Lord Robertson said, an attack on one here I'm afraid is an attack on all and if they back off then that will be exactly what the terrorists want, so I hope they don't.

DAVID FROST:
Because of the success of this mission people have said well if there was nuclear missile defence that wouldn't have worked in this case and so on, does that weaken the case for NMD?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
No I don't think it does and funnily enough there was quite an interesting talk about that by Jack Straw. The reality is that by proving one threat, which this has done, you do not disprove another. The reality is that we've shown now is the intent, we are, this is a war against an attitude and the attitude of someone who was prepared to lose their life in killing others shows that they will stop at nothing and therefore today or on Tuesday it was an aircraft packed full of people and petrol, tomorrow if they have access to the nuclear weapons or biological weapons they will use those too and if they had missiles they'll use those too. And they are getting those, that's the point, in the next seven or eight years many of these rogue states and rogue organisations will have access to weapons of the most monumental terror and capacity and that you need to defend against.

DAVID FROST:
And someone suggested that with this, Iain, would the problems of airports and security and other security, that maybe there's a case now that there maybe wasn't before, to consider identity cards in this country, do you think that might be an aid to safety, security?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well it's certainly an argument that's advanced and I say that the government needs to bring forward any proposals like that and we will, in the spirit of constructive help, look at these and make our decision on the basis of those discussions with the government I, I certainly don't rule anything in and I don't rule anything out. I, I want to be constructive, the opposition will be constructive and we'll see what the justification is and there are arguments for and against and I recognise that.

DAVID FROST:
Thank you very much indeed for being with us this morning.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Thank you David.

DAVID FROST:
We appreciate it, thank you.

END


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