Monday, 7 September 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday morning it was revealed that Gordon Brown had vetoed attempts to force Libya to make compensation to IRA victims of Libyan supplied Semtex. Yesterday evening in Berlin he said:

"I desperately care about the impact of all IRA atrocities on the victims, their families and communities.

"The Libyans have refused to accept a treaty or normal intergovernmental agreement on this issue.

"As a result, our judgement has been that the course more likely to bring results is to support the families and their lawyers in their legal representations to the Libyan authorities.

"We will appoint dedicated officers in the Foreign Office and our Embassy in Tripoli who will accompany the campaign group to meetings with the Libyan government to negotiate compensation, the first of which will be in the next few weeks."

It was greeted by opposition MPs as a U-Turn. William Hague the shadow Foreign Secretary said:

"The Prime Minister's announcement is a stunning admission that the Government has failed to support the families of the victims of IRA terrorism in their pursuit of compensation from Libya. This U-turn comes only after today’s reports that Gordon Brown was personally involved in a decision not to engage Libya on this issue. The British Government should have provided active support as a matter of course, not as a result of public pressure. But Gordon Brown and the Government he leads have long lost their moral compass."

Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP added:

"We have forced a U-turn, it's not every day you can say that.

"We will work with his government to put the case to the Libyans.

"It is essential now that the government delivers what the Prime Minister has promised."

And the Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesman Ed Davey said:

"We have got a prime minister who no longer appears to be in control. The government looks pretty weak."

Lawyers representing the victims of 138 families had already approached Mr Brown about the possibility of Government assistance in taking their claims forward to be told that it would have been "inappropriate". Yesterday after a fair bit of international* as well as national scrutiny the Prime Minister promised a "dedicated" team of officials at his press conference prior to meeting the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In what would appear to be a volte-face brought about at the end of a hard two weeks of Libyan diplomacy stories leaking out to the press, the focus is slowly shifting unto just what has the British government been up to, if all this isn't about the oil deals already secured by BP and Shell, why is it only in reaction to being uncovered that the Prime Minister and his Ministers are prepared to come clean about the facts?

*This blog managed to attract worldwide attention and readers from 45 of the states in the US.

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