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Breakfast with Frost
Michael Ancram MP, shadow foreign secretary
Michael Ancram MP, shadow foreign secretary

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now later this morning the Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith will be addressing the party faithful at the Tory Spring Conference in Harrogate. It might be a time for relishing the difficulties besetting the government, but on the main problem - Labour's Back Benchers' unhappiness with Tony Blair's war policy - the Tories will be shoring up that beleaguered Prime Minister. Indeed, if there's a vote in the Commons this week the vast majority of Tories will be backing Blair, and the Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram is joining us right now, I think from Birmingham this morning. Good morning Michael.

MICHAEL ANCRAM: Good morning.

DAVID FROST: You presumably feel there should be a debate and a vote this week, maybe on Tuesday.

MICHAEL ANCRAM: Absolutely, we've made it very clear right from the start that if we're going to see military action in Iraq that we wanted to see a full debate on a substantive motion in the House of Commons as a vote. I think that maybe one of the reasons we want to see this particularly is because again we're asking our armed forces to go out once again and to fight for the interests of our country, and I think it's right that they should see that the House of Commons is backing them in that fight.

DAVID FROST: And of course the Conservatives will be voting with the government on this occasion as stronger supporters than some Labour Back Benchers.

MICHAEL ANCRAM: Yes, I mean, I have to say I still hope that even at this late date Saddam Hussein might see sense, might see that he's run out of road, realise that he can't go on playing the game of hiding his weapons of mass destruction any longer, and that he will take the opportunity either to leave or to disarm himself. If that doesn't happen we've made it clear we believe that getting rid of these weapons of mass destruction is in the British national interest, they do pose a threat to us and we've always said we would support the government and the Prime Minister as long as they were acting in the national interest.

DAVID FROST: And in fact do you believe - it seems to go so the Attorney General has given a ruling that this action if it's taken this week, is in fact legal, is within international law. Is that your reading of the situation?

MICHAEL ANCRAM: Yes, it's been my reading for some time and not us alone, in fact in the debate we had in September in the House of Commons, Mingis Campbell the Liberal Democrats spokesman made it clear at that stage that legally we didn't even need Resolution 1441 in order to take military action. All of us wanted to see these resolutions and I would like to see the second resolution because it would have shown Saddam Hussein that the international community is determined to make sure that he longer continues to develop his weapons of mass destruction but, in the absence of a Resolution, it's quite clear under the United Nations Charter and the previous Resolutions that military action can be taken if necessary.

DAVID FROST: And are there there any things at the moment that the Government is not doing but you would like to see it doing?

MICHAEL ANCRAM: Two things. One is I think that they've still got to continue to make the case as to why it is in the British interest, why Britain's security is threatened and I think they could give us more information than they have in the past. I've said, you know, they are in possession of a lot more information than for instance we are in the opposition and I think they should be making a stronger case than they have. Secondly, I do think it's important as we move into what may be military action, that we look very close at what's going to happen afterwards in Iraq. I've been arguing for some time that we want to see a representative administration in Iraq which is going to take account of all the different feelings, the ethnic differences, the regional and provincial differences so that we can have a stable Iraqi administration, hopefully with the bulk of the United Nations which can then really build a country there which can be a force for good in that region.

DAVID FROST: Are you concerned that some of the papers talk about the danger of the troops facing chemical and biological weapons, or do you believe that that is something that Saddam realises last time he was warned that there might be a nuclear result to that. Do you think our troops are going to be safe from that?

MICHAEL ANCRAM: War, unfortunately, or military action is a dangerous exercise and I think we have to accept that our troops will be facing certain rifts but I'm absolutely certain, as far as one can be, that our defence administration and our military are taking every precaution they can to ensure the security and safety of our forces.

DAVID FROST: Thank you Michael. Thank you very much for joining us this morning, we appreciate it. Michael Ancram there, the Shadow Foreign Secretary.


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