David Cameron has rejected claims that he needs a United Nations mandate to extend airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) into Syria, as he came under pressure over the government’s response to the Paris atrocity.
During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons dominated by the events in France on Friday, Mr Cameron was pressed by SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson to get a UN Security Council mandate ahead of further military action.
Mr Robertson praised the diplomatic efforts on Syria carried out by the UK, Russia, the US and Iran last week to seek a common solution in Syria but insisted that military action should follow a similar path.
He also quoted a Survation poll which showed 52 per cent of respondents believed there should be a UN mandate before military action is taken.
Mr Cameron hit back saying he would not “outsource to Russian veto the decisions that we need to keep our country safe”.
Mr Cameron said it was “always preferable” to have UN Security Council backing, as he gears up to present his case for why RAF air strikes should take place against IS targets in Syria.
He told Mr Robertson: “If they are vetoed or threatened with a veto over and over again, my job, frankly, as Prime Minister is not to read a Survation opinion poll but to do the right thing to keep our country safe.”
Mr Robertson had earlier welcomed the “significant diplomatic progress” on trying to reach a deal to resolve the Syrian civil war. The UK, US, France, Russia and Iran have signed a statement agreeing to make progress through the UN, Mr Robertson said, before asking Mr Cameron: “Will you confirm that you will support the UN Security Council resolution on this before seeking to intervene militarily in Syria?”
Mr Cameron insisted Russia has “different aims to us” and has repeatedly “threatened to veto” any such resolution.
He added: “Of course, it’s always preferable in these circumstances to have the full backing of the UN Security Council.
“I have to say what matters most of all is any action we take would both be legal and would help to protect our country and people right here.
“You cannot, as I said yesterday, outsource to a Russian veto the decisions we need to keep our country safe.”
Mr Cameron also insisted the question of how to dismantle IS bases in Syria “cannot be dodged forever” as he pushed for Britain to join airstrikes.
The Prime Minister reiterated his determination to stage another House of Commons vote on extending RAF strikes from Iraq to Syria.
“We cannot dodge forever the question of how to degrade Isil both in Iraq and in Syria,” he said.
But Mr Robertson warned that any attempt to push a vote on bombing in Syria in the Commons would see Nationalists oppose extension of military activity if there is no UN mandate.