The power to commit troops in armed conflict is one of the remaining Royal Prerogatives – that is powers that are derived from the Crown rather than conferred on them by Parliament. There is no codified parliamentary procedure that formally requires the Government to seek approval before taking military action. The Prime Minister and Cabinet retain the constitutional right to decide when and where to authorise action. In practice governments in modern times have usually ensured parliamentary debate. In 2006, Tony Blair, following his own vote over Iraq in March 2003, acknowledged that he could not “conceive of a situation in which a Government… is going to go to war – except in circumstances where militarily for the security of the country it needs to act immediately – without a full parliamentary debate”. But having a debate, its timing and any subsequent vote are not constitutionally binding on the government’s domestic powers to act. The Iraq war vote of 10 years ago was a significant precedent that Parliament should also give its approval. Subsequent doubts about whether the right choice was made on the right evidence have reinforced views of Parliament as a check on government action. Since taking office […]

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