Commons panel opposes Syria raids

Prime Minister David Cameron

An influential Commons committee has urged Prime Minister David Cameron not to press ahead with a vote on UK air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, BBC reported

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

The Foreign Affairs Committee – which has a Conservative majority – said the prime minister should instead focus on efforts to end Syria’s civil war. It also raised concerns about the legal basis for any UK action.

About 20-30 Conservative MPs were expected to rebel against their party in the event of a vote.

Mr Cameron was defeated in a 2013 vote on possible UK military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government by 285-272.

Following that vote, he said he would respect the decision, and ruled out joining US-led strikes – although it later emerged that UK pilots embedded with coalition forces had conducted air strikes against IS over Syria.

Downing Street has strongly denied reports Mr Cameron has abandoned plans for a vote altogether.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said there had to be a political solution and he did not believe that “more bombing is going to help in this”.

The Times and the Guardian are claiming the prime minister has decided against a second vote on the issue because he lacks MPs’ support.

A Downing Street source told the BBC the reports were “complete nonsense”.

The Labour party also rejected the BBC claims that it has given the Stop War Coalition a veto over the party’s policy on UK military action in Syria. The broadcaster reported that Shadow Foreign Minister Catherine West told a meeting last night that Labour would “consult” the peace campaigners before making any decision on extending RAF strikes from Iraq.

But Labour sources have told The Huffington Post UK that Ms West is upset with the way the BBC reported her words, and she claims that she was referring to consulting Syrians rather than Stop The War.

The committee of MPs said no vote should take place on Syria until the government presents a “coherent international strategy” to defeat Islamic State (IS) and end the country’s civil war.

The Foreign Affairs Committee said it was “not yet persuaded” ministers could address its concerns.

A vote on extending RAF air strikes into Syria had widely been expected to take place in the autumn, although the prime minister had stressed he would only do so when he was sure of a “consensus” among MPs.