I applaud the heroic efforts that the prime minister has made in trying to secure a second resolution....Now that those attempts have failed, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance.
It is not France alone that wants more time for inspections. Germany wants more time for inspections; Russia wants more time for inspections; indeed, at no time have we signed up even the minimum necessary to carry a second resolution.
We delude ourselves if we think that the degree of international hostility is all the result of President Chirac. The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner - not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council.
To end up in such diplomatic weakness is a serious reverse.
Only a year ago, we and the United States were part of a coalition against terrorism that was wider and more diverse than I would ever have imagined possible.
History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.
The US can afford to go it alone, but Britain is not a superpower.
Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules.
Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened: the European Union is divided; the Security Council is in stalemate.
Those are heavy casualties of a war in which a shot has yet to be fired.
It is precisely because we have none of that (NATO, EU, France & Germany) support in this case that it was all the more important to get agreement in the Security Council as the last hope of demonstrating international agreement.
The threshold for war should always be high.
None of us can predict the death toll of civilians from the forthcoming bombardment of Iraq, but the US warning of a bombing campaign that will "shock and awe" makes it likely that casualties will be numbered at least in the thousands.
I am confident that British servicemen and women will acquit themselves with professionalism and with courage. I hope that they all come back.
It is entirely legitimate to support our troops while seeking an alternative to the conflict that will put those troops at risk.
Nor is it fair to accuse those of us who want longer for inspections of not having an alternative strategy.
For four years as foreign secretary I was partly responsible for the western strategy of containment.
Over the past decade that strategy destroyed more weapons than in the Gulf war, dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons programme and halted Saddam's medium and long-range missiles programmes.
Iraq's military strength is now less than half its size than at the time of the last Gulf war.
Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralised and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days.
Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term - namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target.
Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create? Why is it necessary to resort to war this week, while Saddam's ambition to complete his weapons programme is blocked by the presence of UN inspectors?
Only a couple of weeks ago, Hans Blix told the Security Council that the key remaining disarmament tasks could be completed within months.
I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but 12 years in which to complete disarmament, and that our patience is exhausted. Yet it is more than 30 years since resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. We do not express the same impatience with the persistent refusal of Israel to comply.
I welcome the strong personal commitment that the prime minister has given to middle east peace, but Britain's positive role in the middle east does not redress the strong sense of injustice throughout the Muslim world at what it sees as one rule for the allies of the US and another rule for the rest.
Nor is our credibility helped by the appearance that our partners in Washington are less interested in disarmament than they are in regime change in Iraq.
That explains why any evidence that inspections may be showing progress is greeted in Washington not with satisfaction but with consternation: it reduces the case for war.
What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops.
The longer that I have served in this place, the greater the respect I have for the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people.
On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain. They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect that they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US Administration with an agenda of its own.
Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition and against the hostility of many of our traditional allies. From the start of the present crisis, I have insisted, as Leader of the House, on the right of this place to vote on whether Britain should go to war.
I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the government.
In Memoriam Robert (Robin) Finlayson Cook
b. 28 February 1946 at Bellshill, Lanarkshire
d. 06 August, 2006 near summit Ben Stack,Inverness
Farewell Song To The Banks Of Ayr
The gloomy night is gath'ring fast, Loud roars the wild, inconstant blast, Yon murky cloud is foul with rain, I see it driving o'er the plain; The hunter now has left the moor. The scatt'red coveys meet secure; While here I wander, prest with care, Along the lonely banks of Ayr.
The Autumn mourns her rip'ning corn By early Winter's ravage torn; Across her placid, azure sky, She sees the scowling tempest fly: Chill runs my blood to hear it rave; I think upon the stormy wave, Where many a danger I must dare, Far from the bonie banks of Ayr.
'Tis not the surging billow's roar, 'Tis not that fatal, deadly shore; Tho' death in ev'ry shape appear, The wretched have no more to fear: But round my heart the ties are bound, That heart transpierc'd with many a wound; These bleed afresh, those ties I tear, To leave the bonie banks of Ayr.
Farewell, old Coila's hills and dales, Her healthy moors and winding vales; The scenes where wretched Fancy roves, Pursuing past, unhappy loves! Farewell, my friends! farewell, my foes! My peace with these, my love with those: The bursting tears my heart declare- Farewell, the bonie banks of Ayr!
--- Robert Burns