PRIME minister Cameron repeatedly refused to apologise, as he opened the debate on bombing Syria, for calling Labour MPs who oppose the bombing ‘a bunch of terrorist sympathisers’.
He refused to apologise over a dozen times. The Motion that he moved was: ‘That this House … Supports Her Majesty’s Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria, and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Forces.’
He claimed the aim of the bombing is to ‘keep the British people safe’ from terror attacks and repeated his claim that there are ‘70,000 non-Daesh forces which could be used as ground troops’. He described the 70,000 as ‘not ideal, not as many as we would like, but they are people we can work with.’
He said that the gap has narrowed and will continue to narrow between Putin and himself on moving towards a new Syrian government. He said: ‘In my view we simply cannot afford to wait. We have to act now’ and called for a ‘new inclusive Syrian government’.
He attacked the BBC for using the term ‘so-called Islamic State’ and demanded it use the term ‘Daesh’ instead. He said: ‘It is not 2003 and we must not use past mistakes as an excuse for inaction,’ and claimed: ‘We have a unanimous United Nations resolution.’ He concluded by demanding: ‘Take action now to keep this country safe.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded: ‘Public opinion is moving increasingly against what I believe to be an ill-thought-out rush to war and he wants to hold this vote before the opinion grows even further against him.
‘Whether it’s a lack of strategy worth the name, the absence of credible ground troops, the missing diplomatic plan for a Syrian settlement, the failure to address the impact of the terrorist threat, or the refugee crisis and civilian casualties, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the prime minister’s proposals for military action simply do not stack up.’
He went on: ‘Let’s start with the military dimension. The prime minister has been unable to explain why extending air strikes to Syria will make a significant military impact on the existing campaign …
‘The claim that the superior British missiles will make the difference is actually quite hard to credit, when the US and other states are struggling to find suitable targets …
‘The prime minister has failed to convince anyone that even if British participation in the air campaign were to tip the balance there are credible ground forces able to take back territory now held by ISIL.
‘In fact, Mr Speaker, it’s quite clear there are no such forces … ‘This is why the logic of an extended air campaign is in fact mission creep and Western boots on the ground, whatever the prime minister may say now about keeping British combat troops out of the way, they are a real possibility…
‘The UN Community Council resolution 2249, passed after the Paris atrocities, and cited in today’s government motion, does not give clear and unambiguous authorisation for UK bombing in Syria.
‘To do so it would have had to be passed under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter, to which the Security Council could not agree.’ Corbyn added: ‘The prime minister has avoided spelling out to the British people the warnings he has surely been given as to the likely impact of UK airstrikes on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.
‘That’s something everyone who backs the government’s motion should think about very carefully before voting to send RAF pilots into action over Syria. It is critically important that we are honest with the British people about the potential consequences of the action the prime minister is proposing to us today …
‘The spectre of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya moves over this debate. To oppose another war and intervention in my view is not pacifism, it’s hard-headed common sense.’