PREMIER Blair boycotted the House of Commons debate on Iraq yesterday in an unprecedented show of contempt for the bourgeois parliament.
Before he left the chamber he dismissed a Liberal Democrat call for UK troops to leave Iraq by the end of October, saying it would send a ‘disastrous signal’.
Lib Dem leader, Menzies Campbell, said the army should start a five-month ‘staged withdrawal’ in May.
Blair told the House of Commons during parliamentary questions that such an ‘arbitrary timetable’ was unworkable.
Labour MP John McDonnell, who is to challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour party leadership, said it was a ‘shocking negation of his responsibilities’ to miss the House of Commons debate on Iraq.
Campbell also criticised the prime minister for deciding not to lead the debate on Iraq.
Blair missed the Iraq debate to give a speech on public services to a meeting of CBI business leaders who are keen to privatise the public sector.
Campbell insisted that ‘I think we should spend the next three months discussing with regional allies and with coalition allies what we propose to do.
‘But between 1 May and the end of October we should conduct a staged withdrawal of United Kingdom forces.
‘In May the three provinces, according to the government, will be handed back to the Iraqis – Basra can be handed back sometime between May and July, we can hand over the transport route between Kuwait and Baghdad which we presently protect for the United States.
‘We can withdraw the RAF aircraft that are operating out of Qatar and by October we should be able to bring all of our British forces back.’