Llwyd: Government failing to learn lessons of Iraq while Libya conflict costs spiralling


Plaid Cymru’s defence spokesperson and Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd MP has today warned that the UK Government risks “failing to learn the lessons of Iraq”.

A report in the Financial Times has revealed that only 12 officials from the Department for International Development have been tasked with planning for post-war reconstruction in Libya.*

Mr Llwyd’s comments also come following a UK government statement which notes that the cost of the Libya conflict has already reached £260 million. This figure is in stark contrast to the Chancellor’s assurances in March this year that the cost would be in the region of “tens of millions, not hundreds”.*

Mr Llwyd said:

“Hasn’t this government learned anything from the Blair administration’s blunders over the lack of post-conflict planning in Iraq?

“First we have news that just twelve officials are working on planning for reconstruction in Libya after Gaddafi’s exit, and secondly, we discover that the Chancellor’s estimate of the cost of the conflict is drastically far out.

“This is deeply worrying.

“The Defence Secretary should have delivered this news personally to the House. With every passing week the UK’s involvement in Libya seems to fall further out of sync with the remits outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 1973 and I repeat my concerns over “mission creep”.

“With official estimates of the cost of this war exceeded, it really seems to be a case of the blind leading the blind. This is yet another reason why parliament needs to vote again on this conflict.”


1. The Defence Secretary’s written ministerial statement outlined that the current estimate of the net additional costs of military operations for costs of military operations in Libya is “in the region of £120 million”. This excludes costs associated with capital munitions. This is likely to be £140 million.

This brings the total cost to £260 million. The Treasury has said it will meet these costs from the Reserve.

2. Link to FT story here.

3. George Osborne from 22nd March:

Mr Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) (Con): Will the Chancellor make every effort to keep the House informed about the cost of our operations in Libya by providing an estimate at the earliest opportunity? Will he also tell us whether those costs will be funded from the Ministry of Defence budget or drawn from the Treasury reserve?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend alerted me to the fact that he might ask this question. The House will understand that it is too early to give a robust estimate of the costs of the operations in Libya, but I can say that they should be modest compared with some other operations, such as Afghanistan. The MOD's initial view is that they will be in the order of tens of millions of pounds, not hundreds of millions. I can tell the House today that whatever they turn out to be, the additional costs of operations in Libya will be fully met from the reserve.