IRAQ THE THREAT OF WAR: PARLIAMENT: Conservative Leader Will Order MPs to Abstain When Labour Rebels Force a Vote in Commons
Grice, Andrew, The Independent (London, England)
THE TORIES will try to exploit Labour's divisions over Iraq by abstaining at the end of next week's Commons emergency debate on the crisis.
The Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, who has given his strong backing to military action against Saddam Hussein's regime, will order Tory MPs not to vote when rebel Labour MPs force a division after the 11-hour debate a week today.
Although the Commons will debate a technical motion for the House to adjourn rather than one about Iraq, Labour backbenchers plan to vote against it to "send a message" to Tony Blair that they are unhappy with his staunch support for President George Bush's plans for military action.
A spokesman for the Tory leader said he felt it would be a "token gesture" for the Labour rebels to vote on a technical motion when dealing with such an important issue.
Tory MPs will be under a three-line whip to attend the Commons debate unless they are overseas. Labour is expected to impose only a one-line whip in the hope of playing down the importance of the planned rebellion. Mr Blair's aides hope the revolt will be limited to the "usual suspects" who would oppose action against Iraq under any circumstances. They pointed out that 35 Labour MPs rebelled in a similar vote in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. …