Syria: MPs vote in favour of military action

RAF jets were poised to start bombing IS in Syria last night after MPs supported David Cameron’s bid to launch air strikes against the terrorist organisation.

David Cameron puts the case forward in the Commons. Picture: Getty
David Cameron puts the case forward in the Commons. Picture: Getty

Missile attacks were predicted within hours of last night’s late vote in the House of Commons which saw the Prime Minister win a majority for his controversial plan to assault IS from the air without the support of British troops on the ground.

Mr Cameron succeeded in his attempt to take the UK into another conflict, despite MPs from across the parties, including his own, expressing deep reservations about his strategy for extending military action into Syria.

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But after ten and half hours of passionate debate, 397 MPs voted for an offensive that will see Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth join Tornado bombers already stationed in the Middle East. They were opposed by 223 MPs.

Picture: PA

The vast majority of Conservatives backed Mr Cameron’s motion along with most Lib Dems and the Democratic Unionist Party.

The pro-air strikes majority was boosted by around 70 Labour MPs, who voted for the UK Government’s motion having been granted a free vote by Mr Corbyn.

The divisions that have riven the Labour Party were illustrated when Mr Corbyn argued against air strikes, only for his Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn to argue for them forcibly when he summed up in a powerful speech late last night.

To cheers and applause, Mr Benn called for action describing IS as “fascists”, who believed in their own superiority and invoked the internationalism that fought against Franco, Hitler and Mussolini.

The SNP voted against the motion along with those Labour MPs who agreed with Mr Corbyn’s stance.

Spelling out the choice facing MPs, Mr Cameron said: “We face a fundamental threat to our security. Isil have brutally murdered British hostages, they have inspired the worst terrorist attack against British people since 7/7 on the beaches of Tunisia, and they have plotted atrocity after atrocity on the streets here at home.”

He called on MPs to “answer the call from our allies” and take action against the “woman-raping, Muslim-murdering, medieval monsters” of IS, who he warned were “plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now”.

He said MPs faced a simple question: “Do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?”

But Mr Cameron had earlier undermined his own attempts to make a statesman-like case for air strikes when it was reported that he had urged Conservative MPs not to side with “terrorist sympathisers” by voting against air strikes.

Mr Cameron’s opponents lined up to condemn his remarks and demand an apology, including the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who said he had”demeaned the office of Prime Minister”. The Prime Minister repeatedly refused to apologise.

Critics of Mr Cameron’s case pointed to his claim that there was there was a 70,000-strong army of Syrian moderates able to support air strikes on the ground.

Mr Corbyn said it was “quite clear there are no such forces” and only extremists would take advantage of the strikes against IS.

But well known figures in Labour argued against Mr Corbyn’s position including the former ministers Yvette Cooper, Margaret Beckett and Alan Johnson.

Amid claims that Labour MPs had been the subject of attempts to intimidate them into voting against military action, Mr Johnson could not resist a dig at “the self-righteous certitude of the finger jabbing representatives of our new and kinder type of politics.”

The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson claimed that 57 out of 59 Scottish MPs would be opposing military action.

“In any normal country, under normal circumstances, Scotland would not be involved yet Scottish forces – from RAF Lossiemouth-  will be deployed to bomb Syria,” Mr Robertson said.