December 7 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The prime minister said yesterday the world could “not stand idly by” in the face of the “massive use” of banned weapons in Syria.
But parliamentarians representing all corners of the country will have the chance to have their say on what happens next.
MPs will be recalled to Parliament tomorrow to vote on a response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria after Downing Street confirmed Britain’s armed forces were drawing up contingency plans for military action.
Mr Cameron promised a “clear” government motion after his request for a recall of the Commons was granted by speaker John Bercow.
Giving parliament the chance to have its say and vote on the issue has won widespread support from the region’s MPs, but whether they will back the motion is less clear cut.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb warned that the government had to act with caution and within international law.
“The whole world has reacted in horror to what has happened,” he said. “But we have to be sure that anything we do helps the situation rather than complicates it.
“I want to hear the arguments put forward. We have to ensure clear objectives are achievable and that we do not become embroiled in a conflict which could drag on permanently.
“We have to make sure that any action we take is well thought through and has achievable objectives.”
The Liberal Democrat minister, who opposed the war in Iraq, did not rule out military intervention.
He said: “I have supported military intervention on occasions in the past. I am not someone who disapproves of military action per se,” he added.
Broadland MP Keith Simpson, who is foreign secretary William Hague’s parliamentary private secretary, said it was up to the government to explain why they wanted to do something.
“There is a sense there has been a grave violation of international law. It is one of those issues it is incredibly difficult for us to ignore and one which we might regret doing so.”
He said that the response may well be a military one. “You can never say never to military force,” he said. “There are no easy options on this. There are all sorts of unforeseen consequences. It is no wonder the public is concerned about it.”
Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, who is also a minister, said he would be looking to see what was said on the floor of the house.
“What we have seen out there is horrendous. Some of the images on TV are heart-wrenching. But the government has got to look at what is appropriate action.”
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “We have all been shocked by the horrendous news emerging from Syria about the use of chemical weapons. The Prime Minister and the US President are looking at options, and I understand that they have not ruled any avenues out. I will of course continue to listen to both sides of the debate but my own view is certainly that Assad must not continue killing innocent people.”
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey added: “There continues to be very distressing images coming out of Syria and Parliament has been recalled this week to discuss the British Government’s response. The UK is considering military options following last week’s use of chemical weapons and I would like to hear from constituents with their thoughts on this issue.”
South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said that it was right that parliament was recalled.
“There needs to be a proper debate into the appalling atrocities happening in Syria.” she added.
But former head of the British Army General Lord Dannatt said he was opposed to military intervention in Syria at this time. He said: “It’s wrong, because although undoubtedly by any moral standards at all using chemical weapons against your own people – which is what on the balance of probabilities it now seems Assad has done – this does not constitute an open invitation for the international community to impose themselves on the internal affairs of another country.
“Now, if the international community was of one voice on this and the UN Security Council was of one voice... that would be a different issue because the case then would be compelling and undoubtedly legal.
“But the international community is fractured on this, and while there are some things we do know, there are many things we do not know about Syria, and the main thing we don’t know is what the effect of these strikes would be on the developments and consequences of the civil conflict in Syria.”
The recall of Parliament was announced as US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said his country was “ready to go” in its response to the atrocity. The prime minister continued efforts to build an international consensus over the response to the use of chemical weapons, which has been blamed on Bashar Assad’s regime.
UN weapons inspectors examined the scene of one of the alleged attacks on Monday but have delayed a second trip to rebel-held suburbs of Damascus after an attack on their convoy.