LONDON -- Britain's bipartisan consensus on Persian Gulf policy frayed yesterday as the Conservative government prepared for war and the opposition Labor Party called for more time for sanctions to work.
The difference will be highlighted in a House of Commons emergency debate on the gulf next week as the United Nations' Jan. 15 deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait arrives.
Labor's leader, Neil Kinnock, who chaired a meeting of his party leadership yesterday, said that sanctions were hurting Iraq not only economically, but also militarily.
"They continue to be evidence of the total isolation of Iraq and the utter hopelessness of Saddam Hussein," he said.
His foreign affairs spokesman, Gerald Kaufman, explained: "What we have said is that we want sanctions to work. We want time to be given for sanctions to work. Everybody in this country takes the view that Iraq must get out of Kuwait. There is no doubt about that.
"If, in the end, the only way to get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait is force, then force will have to be used. But, of course, every sane person wants to avoid war, wants to avoid killing, wants to uphold the U.N. sanctions policy."
Both Mr. Kinnock and Mr. Kaufman stressed that if British troops were deployed in action, Labor would support the initiative.
But some Labor left-wingers are opposed to any military action in the gulf.