A report that was to be launched by murdered MP Jo Cox urges the UK to continue intervening in international conflicts despite calls to retreat following the second Iraq war.
The paper was to be published by the late Labour MP and former humanitarian worker alongside Tom Tugendhat, a Tory MP and ex-soldier, and warns “knee jerk isolationism” will have “dangerous implications for national security and the safety of civilians around the world”.
It cites the successes of creating no-fly zones Iraq in 1991, the Kosovo intervention in the late-1990s and action in Sierra Leone in 2000, and states Cox believed “Britain must lead again”.
The report produced by the Policy Exchange think-tank, called The Cost of Doing Nothing, was to be released to coincide with the much-delayed Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war.
Cox’s friend and Labour MP Alison McGovern completed the work, which has the consent of Cox’s husband, Brendan.
Brendan Cox said:
“Jo was passionate about this piece of work. She felt deeply that the UK had a duty to stand up for civilians threatened by war and genocide.
“Her commitment wasn’t theoretical, it was forged by her experience of meeting survivors of genocide in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan. Last week I was clearing some of Jo’s things and found the first draft of the report that she had scribbled all over. At the top she had written ‘Britain must lead again’.
“Although she isn’t here to advance that argument, she’d be delighted that her colleagues and friends are able to do so in her stead.”
Last week I was clearing some of Jo’s things and found the first draft of the report that she had scribbled all over. At the top she had written ‘Britain must lead again’. Brendan Cox
Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, said:
“Britain has never been isolationist. It is in our national interest to be engaged with the world we helped shape. That means taking responsibility, and influencing events and intervening when necessary. To stand aside would not make us or the world safer, but leave us vulnerable to the whims of others rather than doing what we have always done - shape our own destiny and be a force for good.”
McGovern, MP for Wirral South, added:
“We cannot simply look the other way in cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. Jo never believed that simply doing nothing in the face of atrocities was good enough, and neither should we. On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, and in the light of what is happening right now in Syria, it is ever more important for us to do what we can to ensure her message is heard.”
The report is also backed by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and ex-Foreign Secretary Lord Hague. The report argues while the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan must be learned, a retreat from world affairs risks causing further global instability.
It will point to tragedies that unfolded as a result of limited or slow intervention, including Rwanda in 1994 that resulted in the genocide of up to 1 million Tutsis and the West’s sluggish response to the civil war in Syria, where the Commons voted against military action, and the subsequent half a million people killed and two million people displaced.