Yesterday I attended the emergency recall of Parliament to discuss the Government’s motion with regards to the current situation in Syria.
I sincerely appreciate all of the letters and emails I have received regarding this matter in such a small period of time.
I condemn the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war unreservedly. The use of chemical weapons cannot be justified in any circumstances and I agree we should do all we can to prevent their proliferation and deployment.
However, I did not feel able to support the Government yesterday. I simply did not feel the Prime Minister sufficiently justified the use of military force or clearly spelled out what the objectives and strategy of any action would be.
Before Parliament reassembled, it was clear that the Prime Minister wanted the Commons to authorise military action in order for that action to take place this weekend.
When it became clear he could not win a vote in the Commons, he backed down but still stated that he regarded the vote as approval in principle of military action.
I simply could not vote with the Government on that basis.
I recognise Syria is an extremely complicated issue, where frankly there are no ‘good’ options for us to take. Yesterday, I felt the Government were too cavalier in their consideration of these problems.
Syria’s chemical weapons cannot be destroyed or secured from the air – this could only be done with substantial ground forces.
If our aim is to change the regime by siding with the rebels, we run the risk of bringing to power a regime aligned to Al-Qaeda, which would then gain access to the chemical weapons stockpile we are concerned about.
Our only hope of success with an intervention would be to engage in action which psychologically prevented the Assad regime from using chemical weapons again.
This is possible but the Prime Minister did not present such a case.
As a democracy and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, we should be involved in helping find a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Following on from the Commons vote last night, there must be a renewed urgency to support the Syrian people at this desperate time.
Published August 30th 2013