Defence Secretary says UK waged ‘illegal wars’

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Gasps abounded in the Commons this afternoon after a testy exchange between Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his Labour opposite number. A clearly riled Wallace decided that he had had enough of John Healey's interventions during the second reading of his bill to limit prosecutions of servicemen and women. The cabinet minister told the House: 

Much of the mess we are having to come and clean up today is because of your illegal wars, your events in the past and the way you have run this, the, the, the... the safety for our forces.

Readers don't need to be told that neither the invasion of Iraq nor the war in Afghanistan have been found to be illegal. So it is intriguing to see the minister responsible for HM Forces stand up in the Commons and say otherwise.

Nick Clegg made a similar gaffe at the start of the coalition after which he was forced to, bizarrely, claim that he had been speaking from the dispatch box in a personal capacity. 

When Mr S got in touch with the Ministry of Defence just now, he was told that they would not be commenting on the matter. Awkward...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to

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