March 22, 2019

Opposition leaders slam May for not consulting parliament on Syria strikes

Prime Minister Theresa May is facing criticism for joining with American and French allies to launch air strikes in Syria without a parliamentary vote.

“Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump," said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. "The Government should do whatever possible to push Russia and the United States to agree to an independent UN-led investigation of last weekends horrific chemical weapons attack so that those responsible can be held to account.”

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “Riding the coattails of an erratic US President is no substitute for a mandate from the House of Commons.

“The Prime Minister could and should have recalled Parliament this week and sought the approval of MPs before proceeding."

Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said there had been a lack of explanation from Trump and May.

She commented: “We cannot tolerate Syrias use of chemical weapons on a civilian population – but there has been no explanation from the Prime Minister or the President on how this action, taken without parliaments approval, will halt the use of chemical weapons or contribute to a long term peace in the area.

“Air strikes by US and UK forces have not resolved the situation in Syria in the past and I am not persuaded they will do so now."

In a statement issued this morning, the Prime Minister said there had been no alternative but to join the action.

"This is the first time as Prime Minister that I have had to take the decision to commit our armed forces in combat – and it is not a decision I have taken lightly," she said.

"I have done so because I judge this action to be in Britains national interest. We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – within Syria, on the streets of the UK, or anywhere else in our world.

"We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none."

Conservative MPs also backed the Prime Minister on Twitter. Anna Soubry, who has frequently gone against the government's line on Brexit said the decision was "right".

Prime Minister was right to join with France & USA and take action against Assads chemical weapon facilities. The air strikes were proportionate & it appears, effective. We cannot and will not tolerate use of chemical weapons especially against civilians #Syria#Salisbury

— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) April 14, 2018

Meanwhile Johnny Mercer said that a parliamentary vote would not take into account the full intelligence seen by May and the National Security Council (NSC).

Parliament's say is important – must have a debate and MP's must be heard. But the idea that binding action can be taken on seeing only a fraction of the evidence presented to the PM/NSC is nonsense.

— Johnny Mercer MP (@JohnnyMercerUK) April 13, 2018

It is widely expected that May will face tough questioning in the House of Commons on Monday when parliament reconvenes after its Easter break.

Read more: Labour slams government for "waiting for instructions from Trump" over Syria

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