UK must act on desire of Libyan people to remove Gaddafi – Jo

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Jo Swinson pressed the Prime Minister on Libya, highlighting the cost of international inaction.

Jo argued that if the Libyan dictator was able to maintain a hold on power throughout the current Libyan crisis, it would send a dangerous message to tyrants and despots the world over.

Prime Minister David Cameron responded by recognising the importance of Jo’s point, and acknowledging Britain’s leading role in calling for a range of steps to isolate and pressurise Gaddafi’s regime.

Pro-Gaddafi forces have now declared an immediate ceasefire following the passage of a UN Security Council resolution last night approving a no-fly zone over the country, and pressure will now be on the regime to keep to its word. The UK has now committed military aircraft to join with the international effort in enforcing a no-fly zone to protect the Libyan people from attack.

Commenting, Jo said:

“I am pleased that the UK is playing a leading role in action to stop Gaddafi’s brutal regime and protect the Libyan people. If the international community fails to remove Colonel Gaddafi from his tyrannical hold on power, we will be failing to meet the clear desire of the Libyan people to determine their own country’s future. At a time when the Libyan people are suffering at the hands of the regime in fearful and desperate living conditions, a failure to remove Gaddafi will simply encourage the leaders of other illegitimate regimes around the world.

“The international community must continue to take decisive action to address the dangerous situation in Libya. We cannot put the wishes of the Libyan people and regional bodies such as the Arab League to one side; much less ignore our principles both at the UN, and as a democratic and free nation.”


The full text of Jo Swinson’s question to the Prime Minister is as follows:

16 Mar 2011 : Column 296

Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): I welcome the UK’s strong leadership at the UN on Libya. Can the Prime Minister tell me what message he thinks it will send to every tyrannical dictator if, against the urgent desire of the Libyan people, against the wishes of the Arab League and against the UN principle of the responsibility to protect, the international community fails to stop Gaddafi crushing the spirit, the hopes and the lives of the Libyan people?

The Prime Minister: The hon. Lady makes a very important point. Every world leader has said that Gaddafi should go and that his regime is illegitimate. If at the end of this he is left in place, that will send a terrible message-not only to people in Libya, but, as she says, to others across the region who want to see greater democracy and greater openness in their societies. That is why it is right for Britain to play this leading role at the UN and elsewhere. I am not arguing that a no-fly zone is a simple solution to this problem-of course it is not-but I do think that it is one of the steps we need to take to isolate and pressurise that regime, and to say that we stand with people in Libya, who want to have greater democracy and greater freedom, such as we take for granted in this country.

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