PRIME MINISTER – AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY – 28 June 2010
Dr Julian Lewis: I know that the Prime Minister wants the existing strategy to be given more time to succeed, but will he accept that, if it shows little sign of progress in the next few months, or even the next year or so, there should be an alternative to recommending total withdrawal? Total withdrawal would take us back to square one, and the existing strategy would mean our continuing to take excessive casualties. There has to be, and there could be, a middle way, and I hope that he will consider that if he sees that the present strategy is not moving in the direction that he would like to see.
[The Prime Minister: I know that my hon. Friend is working hard on the middle way option, and that he is going to do further work on it. Of course I shall look carefully at what he produces. I would say to him that the surge in troop numbers has made a difference on the ground. In the parts of Afghanistan where previously it was impossible to step outside a military base, it is now possible to walk around the towns and visit the markets. I went to a training college, the last time I was in Helmand. The previous time, I went to a wheat seed distribution centre. Both times, I was able to have some freedom of movement. So there is some progress, and I think that this is the right strategy. We should use all that we have, this year, to give it every chance of success.]