British parliament to vote on Syria air strikes

Britain looks poised to join air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria, as PM Cameron announces a vote will be held in parliament Wednesday.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Reuters

Britain looks poised to join air strikes on Islamic State (ISIS) group targets in Syria this week after Prime Minister David Cameron announced Monday that a vote would be held in parliament Wednesday, AFP reported.

The announcement came after the main opposition Labour party decided to let its MPs vote with their individual consciences rather than trying to force them to oppose military action, meaning Cameron is set to get the clear majority he wanted.

But Labour was left looking deeply split on the issue after its left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed that he would vote against air strikes while a string of other centrist MPs said they would support them.

"I can announce that I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow that we hold a debate and a vote in the House of Commons to extend the air strikes," Cameron said in a televised statement on Monday evening, according to AFP.

 "We will make sure that we have a very long and full debate on Wednesday."

Cameron has wanted Britain to extend its operations against ISIS jihadists in Iraq to Syria for months but held back because he would not have been able to gain support from parliament due to Labour opposition.

In 2013, Cameron suffered a defeat in parliament when MPs voted against British military action against the Assad regime in Syria to deter the use of chemical weapons.

Last week he laid out the case for British jets, already bombing ISIS targets in Iraq, to join France, the United States and others in targeting ISIS strongholds in neighboring Syria, saying Britain shouldn’t wait until an attack on its territory to take action against ISIS.

Cameron’s renewed push for his country to  join the air strikes comes in the wake of the Paris attacks which killed 130 people and were claimed by ISIS.

In his statement, the prime minister said Britain wanted to "answer the call from our allies and work with them because ISIL (another acronym for ISIS) is a threat to our country and this is the right thing to do."

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was now "confident" that most MPs would support air strikes when there was a vote.

Meanwhile, Corbyn faces the toughest challenge of his nearly three-month leadership over the air strikes vote.

His party is split between left-wing MPs, supported by many of the grassroots activists who swept him to power, who oppose the strikes and centrist lawmakers who are in favour.

Monday's shadow cabinet meeting was told that some 43 percent of Labour MPs -- nearly 100 out of 231 -- supported air strikes while 57 percent or 132 would oppose them.

His decision to call a free vote was seen as a way of trying to prevent any resignations from his team over the issue.

AFP contributed to this report.




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