David Cameron has just made an emergency statement to the Commons in the wake of the UN resolution on Libya being passed last night.
He said (not verbatim):
There were hopeful signs that a better future awaited the Libyan people three weeks ago, but instead Gaddafi has opted to attack his own people.
The British Government has sought to isolate the regime, deprive it of money, shrink its power and hold those responsible for abuses to account.
Contingency planning was necessary. We only intervene in another country's affairs in exceptional circumstances and using force would always require three tests being met – a demonstrable need, regional support and a clear legal base. These have now all been met in full.
The UN resolution authorises and sets the limits of action – excluding an occupation force. That is right.
There is now a responsibility to respond. After advice from the Attorney General, the Government is satisfied there is a legal base for the deployment of UK forces. The Cabinet agreed that UK forces will play their part to enforce the Resolution. The Chief of the Defence staff has been instructed to make the necessary military preparations, including sending Tornadoes, Typhoons and surveillance aircraft to the region. Those preparations have already started.
There will be a substantive motion for debate in the Commons next week [expected to be Monday]. but we need to move forward immediately on the basis of the UN Resolution.
We call on Gaddafi to cease the violence against his own people and we will issue a clear statement of what we expect from him later today.
We don't deploy British forces lightly or without careful thought. But it is right to do so here and right that we played a leading role in seeking the UN Resolution.
Sky News reports that the Libyan Government has announced an immediate ceasefire
The Government has published the text of the motion which will get a full day's ebate in the Commons on Monday:
"That this House welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; accordingly supports the Government, working with others, in the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the No Fly Zone, including the use of UK armed forces and military assets in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces."