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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Duncan Smith offers national unity
Iain Duncan Smith flanked by Michael Ancram (left) and Bernard Jenkin in the Commons on Friday
Duncan Smith says the UK must stand with America
New Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has offered a virtual suspension of party politics for as long as the "war" against terror attacks goes on.

The Liberal Democrats too have said they will consider attending cross-party talks but stress that ending all domestic democratic activity would be giving in to terrorism.

In a rare move, Mr Duncan Smith said he would let his shadow ministers sit on the Cabinet's emergency committees in a show of unity against the terrorists who attacked the US.

These are exceptional times and exceptional times require exceptional measures

Iain Duncan Smith
The announcement comes as the new Tory leader is expected to appoint right-wingers Eric Forth and Bill Cash when he completes his shadow cabinet team on Tuesday, amid reports that the Euroscepticism of his new team has alarmed some Tories.

Such party political concerns have, however, been completely overshadowed in the aftermath of the terror attacks in the US.

'Behind closed doors'

Mr Duncan Smith has offered his backing to whatever was required "behind closed doors" in what he described as "exceptional times requiring exceptional measures".

Sitting on government sub-committees might lock in the opposition if Tony Blair were to make tough or potentially unpopular decisions on military action abroad or measures such as introducing identity cards in the UK.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "We want the government to continue to give a lead to our allies in Western Europe to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States.

Bill Cash, MP for Stone, Staffordshire
Ardent Eurosceptic Bill Cash: Tipped for a shadow cabinet post
"It is important that terrorists don't see a glimmer of daylight between them and the same goes for us.

"I think the British people expect that we show some unity here and we show the same purpose as the government."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The government will make sure the opposition is regularly briefed as they were during Kosovo. That can be done on Privy Council terms."

The Tory leader suggested too that next month's Tory party conference could be cancelled because of the continuing situation.

"It's too early yet to make any decisions on that. Certainly our plans are to go ahead, as I am sure the government's are, but obviously it depends how things pan out over the next few weeks."

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy said his party would consider any approach from the government to join cross-party talks on the UK's response to last week's atrocities.

"But we must not simply end all domestic activity. That would be to give in to terrorism and we will not do it.

"After the Brighton bomb, Mrs Thatcher rightly continued with the Conservative Party conference.

"As democrats we must all try and show the same resolve now."

Final line-up

Most of the new Tory shadow cabinet is now in place and Mr Duncan Smith will complete the line-up on Tuesday after last week having difficulties contacting some MPs.

It is expected he will call on Mr Forth, a leading member of the "awkward squad" which troubled Labour ministers in the last Parliament, to become shadow Commons leader.

And Mr Cash, who led Tory rebellions against John Major's European policy, is strongly tipped to be made shadow attorney general.

Extra scrutiny will be paid to the shape of the frontbench team after comments from former Tory vice-chairman Steve Norris on Sunday.

Making party decent

Mr Norris told the Observer newspaper he was ready to help Mr Duncan Smith make the party "decent".

"But I have warned that if he drags the party off to the right, then I and thousands of supporters will go."

Tory officials insist the vast majority of the party is behind the new leader.

Party chairman David Davis has said shadow ministers have been picked on performance and include figures from the left of the party.

Iain Duncan Smith
"I think the British people expect that we show some unity here and we show the same purpose as the government"
See also:

14 Sep 01 | UK Politics
New Tory team at a glance
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