Military action within days says MP

PUBLISHED: 15:56 25 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:34 03 March 2010

IPSWICH MP Jamie Cann today said he was expecting to return to the House of Commons next week – and believes military action in Afghanistan could start within days.

IPSWICH MP Jamie Cann today said he was expecting to return to the House of Commons next week – and believes military action in Afghanistan could start within days.

"I think things could start happening as soon as the Pope returns from his visit to Kazakhstan," he said today.

"But it's not clear what form the action will take – it may be fairly small scale basically involving elite forces like the SAS and the American Seals and Delta Force."

Parliament looks set to be recalled next week as both Labour and Conservative Parties announced their conferences would be dramatically shortened.

The Liberal Democrats' conference is currently underway in Bournemouth – but it is clear that the mounting world crisis is dominating all aspects of their meetings.

Meanwhile fears over chemical or biological warfare today prompted a worldwide alert from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The organisation called on governments to speed up their preparations for possible germ warfare attacks in the wake of the terror attacks on the US.

America has already grounded crop-dusting planes over fears they could be used by terrorists to spread chemical or biological agents.

WHO has released a draft report of its technical guide, Health Aspects of Biological and Chemical Weapons, to health ministries around the world earlier than planned. The report had been due to be released later in the year.

Downing Street said that the Prime Minister's "current thinking" was to wind up the Labour conference in Brighton next Wednesday and summon MPs back to Westminster for a two-day debate on the Thursday and Friday.

The spokesman stressed that an earlier recall of Parliament had not been ruled out "should that be appropriate'.

In an apparently co-ordinated move, the Conservatives also announced that they would be cutting short their conference the following week in Blackpool because of international events.

The announcements came after the Prime Minister met new Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith yesterday in Downing Street for talks on the crisis.

Mr Blair's indication that he expected to curtail the Labour Party conference followed discussions with key colleagues, including Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and party chairman Charles Clarke.

If the recall does go ahead it will be the second time that MPs have been summoned back from their summer holidays to discuss the crisis.

Calls for a further debate have been growing since it became increasingly clear last week that British forces were likely to take part in any military operations against Afghanistan launched by the US.

Downing Street also said that Mr Blair's attendance at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Brisbane, Australia, next month was being kept under review.

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