Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will grant Labour MPs a free vote on UK air strikes against Islamic State in Syria
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said the shadow cabinet had “accepted his recommendation” of a free vote.
“Today’s Shadow Cabinet agreed to back Jeremy Corbyn’s recommendation of a free vote on the Government’s proposal to authorise UK bombing in Syria,” the spokesman said. “The Shadow Cabinet decided to support the call for David Cameron to step back from the rush to war and hold a full two day debate in the House of Commons on such a crucial national decision.
“Shadow Cabinet members agreed to call David Cameron to account on the unanswered questions raised by his case for bombing: including how it would accelerate a negotiated settlement of the Syrian civil war; what ground troops would take territory evacuated by ISIS; military co-ordination and strategy; the refugee crisis and the imperative to cut-off of supplies to ISIS.”
The Labour leader has also requested a two-day debate in the House of Commons beforehand.
The UK parliament’s third largest party – the SNP – opposes bombing IS in Syria, with leader Nicola Sturgeon criticising Labour’s stance, tweeting that “a party that says it is anti-air strikes has just made a vote for air strikes more likely”.
Ahead of the shadow cabinet meeting, the Labour leadership said 75% of party members it polled over the weekend had opposed bombing. The survey was called into question with one Labour MP calling it a “rather vague consultation”.
A free vote means Labour MPs would not be ordered to vote with the leadership. Mr Corbyn had previously suggested he wanted to agree a united position within his shadow cabinet and for Labour to approach the question “as a party”. But he was warned of resignations from his front bench if he attempted to force his party to vote with him.