Monday, 16 April 2007

Will Des Browne Be Forced To Resign ?

Tory leader David Cameron said yesterday that Des Browne must resign from the Cabinet unless he can convince MPs that he still commands the support of the Armed Forces after the Iran captives fiasco. Today, Defence Secretary Browne will make a statement to MPs regarding the seizure in the Gulf last month, their 13 days of captivity at the hands of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and the decision after their release to allow them to sell their stories to the press.

Mr Cameron, who has not as of yet called for Mr Browne's resignation, strengthened his stance during a television interview by saying the Defence Secretary has to pass two tests today if he is to fend off calls from the Opposition for his resignation. He has to convince MPs that the MoD and No 10 took the right decisions throughout the Iran crisis and, second, he must show he retains the confidence of the Armed Forces, despite the anger and bad feeling or recent days.

During his appearance on BBC1's Sunday am Cameron said "If he can pass those two tests then he keeps his job, if he fails, then I think he has to go.'' Browne's chances of passing the second test do not look promising after a former chief of the defence staff, Lord Guthrie joined several other former chiefs in criticising the MoD.

Mr Browne has accepted "full responsibility" for allowing two of the sailors, Faye Turney and Arthur Batchelor, to sell accounts of their ordeal to tabloid newspapers. But he claimed that it was primarily a Navy decision that he was merely asked to "note".

The MoD has sought to give the impression that it was a passive bystander in events controlled by the Navy. However the fact that the MoD press office in London actively encouraged the Navy to consider allowing the sailors to sell their stories, arguing that they would not be able to stop the sailors' families and friends from cashing in directly conflicts with that impression .
Mr Browne's role has been further called into question by the release of Navy rules on dealing with the media that make clear that before any services personnel can co-operate with the press on "sensitive" issues, the Secretary of State has to give his or her express approval.

The entire situation regarding the hostages capture and release has been disastrous. The way it was handled has not only been an embarrassment to our country and government it has made us targets for terrorists both at home and abroad. Iran did not suffer any consequences as a result of their actions therefore other terrorist organization and countries that support them have nothing to fear either. Do I think Browne should resign, absolutely, as should everyone else directly involved with the handling of this fiasco.

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