18 March 2003 Parliamentary approval for the invasion of Iraq

18 March 2003 Parliamentary Approval For The Invasion Of Iraq

18 March 2003 Parliamentary approval for the invasion of Iraq

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The Parliamentary approval for the invasion of Iraq was given by the elected members of the British House of Commons to Tony Blair's government on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq in a series of two votes on 18 March 2003.

Constitutional background

There is no constitutional requirement for the United Kingdom government to seek any explicit form of Parliamentary approval before committing UK forces to military action. The Royal Prerogative permits the government to give the order to begin action.

However the political controversy over whether to participate in military action, which covered the legal legitimacy as well as Foreign policy questions, had been under discussion for many years. As early as 1999, the anti-war MP Tam Dalyell had proposed a Ten Minute Rule Bill called Military Action Against Iraq Bill which would "require the prior approval, by a simple majority of the House of Commons, of military action by United Kingdom forces against Iraq." Dalyell was given leave to bring in his Bill but did not progress it further.

Debates in 2003

The deployments of UK forces to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, along with forces of the United States, were a clear preliminary to military action. A succession of debates were held on UK policy on Iraq. Finally, on 17 March, US President Bush gave an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to give up power within 48 hours or face military conflict. Previous votes had endorsed government policy of confronting Iraq through the United...
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