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MPs Denied Vote On Mali Intervention, Amid Fears Of 'Mission Creep'

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French soldiers are seen during a patrol in the outskirts of Sevare, Mali
French soldiers are seen during a patrol in the outskirts of Sevare, Mali

The government has rejected calls for MPs to be given a vote on the deployment of armed forces personel to Mali and west Africa, amid fears Britain could get drawn into a protracted conflict.

On Thursday Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn called for the Commons to be given a chance to approve or block any further involvement in the French led mission which he said could become an "unpleasant, long, drawn-out, guerrilla-like conflict".

However Andrew Lansley, the leader of the House of Commons, sad a vote was not needed as no combat troops were being sent.

"The role of British troops is clearly not a combat role. It is not our intention to deploy combat troops," he said.

The precedent for giving MPs the right to vote on any military action was set in 2003 when Tony Blair allowed parliament to grant consent.

But Corbyn told The Huffington Post UK that Lansley's reasoning was a "fig leaf" and that parliament should be given a say.

"If you send troops somewhere with force protection provided by Britain or France, they are going to be armed," he said.

"The trainers are going ot be armed, if there is suicide bomb attack and tragically someone is injured or killed, they are in combat and they are going to fight back."

Some MPs are worried that the situation in Mali may replicate what happened in Afghanistan. Although British troops were first deployed there in 2001, parliament was not offered a vote on their presence until 2010.

This week Britain upped its contribution to the French led effort in Africa, offering up to 240 personel to help in training missions.

However several MPs have raised concerns about so-called "mission creep", worrying that Britain will get drawn slowly into another protracted war.

Tory MP John Baron, a member of the foreign affairs committee, warned British forces could get bogged down for much longer and in much greater numbers than planned.

"There is a real danger of getting drawn into a much larger deployment, particularly if things do not go to plan on the ground," he told MPs on Tuesday.

"Afghanistan illustrated the dangers of being sucked into larger deployments. That mission morphed into something much larger."

During the Commons debate on the decision to take military action in Libya on 21 March 2011, William Hague said the coalition was committed to turning the convention of parliamentary consent into law.

"We will also enshrine in law for the future the necessity of consulting parliament on military action," he said.

But proposals have yet to materialise. In December, MPs on the political and constitutional reform committee expressed frustration at the lack of progress made and said it would hold the government to its pledge.

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