Tory MP laments British involvement in Afghanistan
CONSERVATIVE MP Peter Lilley has raised questions over the continuing presence of British troops in Afghanistan.
The backbencher, whose Hitchin and Harpenden constituency includes Kimpton, spoke out in the House of Commons as Foreign Secretary William Hague fielded questions about the Government’s plans to withdraw UK forces from the war-torn country by 2015.
Mr Lilley, who was first elected to Parliament in 1983, praised Mr Hague for beginning the process of disentangling British soldiers from a “bloody and unnecessary commitment”.
However, he followed this up by challenging the minister on why our troops are still there now.
He said: “I appreciate that my right hon. Friend has to continue to deploy the argument that the security of our streets requires the commitment of our troops to prevent the re-establishment of al-Qaeda.
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“But can he reassure me that he does not actually believe it, since logically, it would require us to deploy troops in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and elsewhere where al-Qaeda already has a presence?”
In reply, Mr Hague said he did not agree with the “wider thrust” of the question, before adding: “If we failed in or abandoned Afghanistan, the opportunity would be there for terrorist bases to be established again in Afghanistan, and it would give great heart to terrorists based in other countries – whether Yemen or Somalia – and embolden them in their own campaigns.”
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To date, 324 British soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan since the invasion of 2001.