‘THIS STATEMENT serves as a reminder that this Prime Minister is accountable to this Parliament, not to the whims of the US President,’ Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday. He was speaking in response to Tory PM May’s statement to Parliament in which she attempted to justify joining US, and French air strikes on Syria in the small hours of Saturday morning, without first getting the consent of Parliament.
Corbyn added: ‘We clearly need a War Powers Act in this country to transform our now broken convention into a legal obligation. Her predecessor came to this house to seek authority for military action in Libya and in Syria in 2015 and the House had a vote over Iraq in 2003.
‘There is no more serious issue than the life and death matters of military action. It is right that Parliament has the power to support or stop the government from taking planned military action.
‘The BBC reports that the Prime Minister argued for the bombing to be brought forward to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny, will she today, confirm or deny those reports. ‘I believe that the action was legally questionable and on Saturday the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said as much, reiterating that all countries must act in line with the United Nations Charter which states action must be in self-defence or be authorised by the United Nations Security Council.’
He went on: ‘Given that neither the UN nor the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) has yet investigated the Douma attack it is clear that diplomatic and non-military means have not been fully exhausted. ‘While much suspicion rightly points towards the Assad Government, chemical weapons have been used by other groups in the conflict for example Jaysh al-Islam, which was reported to have used gas in Aleppo in 2016, amongst other groups. ‘It is now vitally important that the OPCW inspectors who arrived in Damascus on Saturday are allowed to do their work and publish their report into their findings and report to the United Nations Security Council.’
He added: ‘Does for example the humanitarian crisis in Yemen entitle other countries to arrogate the themselves the right bomb Saudi airfields or there positions in Yemen especially given their (the Saudis) use of banned cluster bombs and white phosphorous. ‘Three United Nation agencies said in January that Yemen was the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. ‘So will the Prime Minister today commit to ending support to the Saudi bombing campaign and arms sales to Saudi Arabia.’
Tory PM Theresa May in her statement posed: ‘Why did we not recall Parliament? I am absolutely clear that it is Parliament’s responsibility to hold me to account for such decisions and Parliament will do so.’ She said with arrogance: ‘But it is my responsibility as Prime Minister to make these decisions, and I will.’