If you did it really early then you would be signaling to your enemy what was happening. If you did it late then Parliament would be voting when all the troops were in place on the ground ready to go. Is it likely they'd vote to stand down? Still, what is fundamental here is that Brown sees Parliament as sovereign on these matters... right? Maybe not.
On Thursday, the International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander gave a speech in America. Whilst also containing coded messages towards the Bush Administration (which I will come back to in a minute), it effectively said that British military action was beholden to the United Nations giving us permission first.
So how does this fit in with a Parliamentary vote? How can you, on the one hand, that Parliament decides something, and then on the other say that you won't do anything until you've managed to convince other nations of your opinion? The implication is that if you cannot convince you'll concede to their view. So where does sovereignty actually lie for Brown? Is it Parliament, or is it in the self-interests of nations like Russia, China, Cuba, Iran etc etc?
Of course, Brown was very quick it seems to play down this speech, so maybe it was a mistake?Initially the speech has been seen as flipping the V-sign to Bush and saying "I'm not going to be seen as your poodle". Downing Street however were very quick to say the speech had not been cleared, so distancing itself from it.
Then they told the Lobby that the interpretation put on the speech was "extraordinary". The PMS then said that he "would not" have put that interpretation on it when "he read it" but "it was for journalists to put whatever interpretation they wanted on the speech".
So lets get this straight, first they say they hadn't seen it until it was delivered, then they say its been misinterpreted, effectively saying that they still agree with its content, and then they passively encourage the "misinterpretation", suggesting that the misinterpretation is anything but.
Roll on to today and this seems confirmed in an interview with Brown's new foreign policy minister, and former UN official, Lord Malloch Brown. He told the Telegraph that Brown and Bush will not be "joined at the hip" and makes it quite clear we;re going to start engaging deeper with Europe. The article also notes that when Brown goes traveling in the next few weeks he's going to be seeing Sarkozy and Merkel before he sees Bush.
Clearly all this posturing will play well for Brown with the populist anti-Americanism that runs through the country and particularly in his party. What's perplexing is exactly what the position of sovereignty is in Brown's head on this matter? In the one breath he says Parliament, in the next he says the UN, and now, if his direction of travel is anything to go by, it looks like he is driving Britain towards the European Empire* even more.
Putting it simply, Brown's foreign policy appears to be a complete mess of contradiction with his domestic pronouncements about Parliament's sovereignty.
* This is a reference to the