MP's explain their vote on Syria intervention

Bashar Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria

Bashar Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria

First published in News

MP's from Cornwall faced a difficult decision last week, as parliament voted on British involvement in the Syrian civil war, following a gas attack that killed scores of civillians.

In what has been called a devastating blow to his authority, the Prime Minister David Cameron lost a government motion by 272 votes to 285.

The vote was considered a step towards intervention in the war torn country, however after the vote it is likely that any military action against the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad will now take place without Britain's involvement.

At the time Mr Cameron said: "It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly."

Sarah Newton, Conservative MP for Falmouth and Truro, who voted yes, said: ''Like everyone else, I was horrified to see the footage of the chemical weapons attacks that took place in Syria last month. I feel strongly that we cannot stand by and let such attacks, which are against international law, take place again.

“Last week I voted for our Government to respond to the calls for help from countries in the region, using the UN process to send a strong message to the Syrian regime that they should not use chemical weapons, that there are consequences if they do.

''My vote was cast in light of the Government's firm commitment that Parliament would have a further debate and vote on any proposed military action. There are very real concerns as to the impact such action would have, and a very real desire, expressed to me by many constituents, to seek a political solution.

“ I am pleased that the Prime Minister has reconfirmed his determination to work with our allies and the UN for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis as well as continuing our significant support for refuges and humanitarian aid.''

Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth George Eustice voted yes, saying while he understands people's reluctance over an attack, he felt parliament's decision was a “mistake”.

Mr Eustice said: “I can understand people's reluctance to commit to military action given our experience in Iraq. However we must never allow our most recent conflict to cloud our judgement about current events.

“The Prime Minister was clear that this would have been a very limited intervention designed solely to prevent the use of chemical weapons. Britain should not turn its back whilst atrocities like this are being committed and I believe Parliament made a mistake.'

Lib Dem MP's Andrew George (St Ives) and Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall) both voted against.

Prior to the vote Andrew George, said that he was unconvinced, saying: “Yes, bomb them with diplomacy, inspectors, humanitarian aid, shelter and support, but recent history should now have taught us that military engagement merely changes the problem; it doesn't resolve it.”

He said that even limited strikes could escalate the situation, draw more countries into the conflict, and lead to operational shift and extended action, as in Iraq and Libya, in order to pursue the “real objective” of regime change, “which itself may result in simply replacing a tyrant with jihadists and perpetual sectarian strife”.

Adding while the motion may not have sanctioned UK military involvement in strikes on Syria, it would “create a momentum and climate for others to engage with greater impunity”.

After the vote, he has said that Parliament should keep the situation under review and that further Parliamentary debates and votes on the issue should be considered, if necessary.

Mr George said: "I voted against the Government last week because I felt that, on balance, a military strike at this stage would run the risk of making the situation worse and put the lives of innocent civilians in that country at greater rather than less risk of the kind of unacceptable and retaliatory actions which Assad has already meted out on his people.

"But the vote last week should not be interpreted, as it is by some, as Parliament turning its back on the people there and the extremely volatile, difficult and tragic circumstances in that country."

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