Cameron triumphant as Commons celebrates Libya victory

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron cut a triumphant figure as he returned to the Commons today, issuing a strongly-worded and lyrical appraisal of the situation in Libya.

The prime minister tried to assuage concerns over reports that MI6 worked with Libya's Gaddafi-era intelligence agencies over the rendition of a terror suspect by sending the case to the Gibson inquiry, but his statement focused on the positive outcome of the conflict.

In a statement which clearly strove for Churchillian heights, Mr Cameron said: "From the villages of the Nafusa mountains to the tower blocksof Misurata, the alleyways of Zawiyah and the streets of Benghazi, the Libyan people fought with incredible courage," Mr Cameron said.

"Many paid with their lives. Others have been seriously injured. And the struggle is not over.

"Britain has been at the forefront of the military operation to protect the Libyan people," he added.

"Our planes and attack helicopters have made 2,400 sorties across Libya carrying out one fifth of all Nato airstrikes, against some 900 targets in Gaddafi's war machine.

"We will not let up until the job is done. Those thinking Nato will somehow pull out or pull back must think again.

"We are ready to extend the NATO mandate for as long as is necessary."

Mr Cameron had a tough message for Colonel Gaddafi, who is still on the run from rebel forces.

"This is a man whose crimes are becoming ever more apparent every day and who is wanted by the International Criminal Court," he said.

"There must be no bolt-hole; no pampered hiding place from justice.

"He must face the consequences of his actions, under international and Libyan law."

Mr Cameron has enjoyed good press since rebels managed to take control of Tripoli after a prolonged stalemate.

The prime minister's efforts to secure the original UN mandate was praised at the time, but the protracted nature of the conflict and worries about the amateurish approach of rebel fighters had started to raise questions about the campaign.