David Cameron, who resigned from the British Prime Minister’s post recently, resigned as MP for Witney, surprising many and triggering a by-election in his constituency. Witney is one of England’s most desirable Tory “safe seats”.
In his second resignation speech in three months, as a mere backbencher in the House of Commons, he claimed, “I don’t want to be the distraction and diversion that the former Prime Minister inevitably is on the backbenches.” There is speculation about his timing, especially since Theresa May is reversing Cameron’s education policy and reintroducing grammar schools. But more seriously, two days after Cameron’s resignation, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FASC), led by MP Crispin Blunt, released a report examining UK’s intervention in Libya and the subsequent collapse of that country. The report condemned UK’s intervention in Libya in February/March 2011 — when Cameron was PM—and said that UK policy followed decisions taken in France. There was no evidence that the UK government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. The UK government was unable to analyse the nature of the Libyan rebellion due to incomplete intelligence and insufficient institutional insight. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence. The intervention drifted into a policy of regime change by military means.
The FASC recognised the inability to secure weapons abandoned by the Muammar Gaddafi regime that fuelled the instability in Libya and enabled and increased terrorism across North and West Africa and the Middle East; also that regional actors have destabilised Libya and are fuelling internal conflict by exporting weapons and ammunition to proxy militias in contravention of the United Nations’ arms embargo.
The FASC noted former PM Cameron’s decisive role when the National Security Council discussed intervention in Libya and that former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, implicitly dissociated himself from that decision in his oral evidence to the inquiry. The FASC recommended this government must commission an independent review of the operation of the NSC and introduce a formal mechanism to allow non-ministerial NSC members to request prime ministerial direction to undertake actions agreed in the NSC and it should be informed by the conclusions of Lord Chilcot’s Iraq inquiry.
Everyone is waiting for David Cameron to announce his new career and to discover if he is called to defend his Libya decision making in Parliament, as Tony Blair was recently over Iraq.