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Corbyn tells MPs he can't support RAF action

By PA Political Staff

Published 27/11/2015

Jeremy Corbyn has told Labour MPs that he cannot support RAF air strikes against Islamic State in Syria.

In a letter sent to all the party's MPs, Mr Corbyn said that David Cameron had failed to set out a "coherent strategy" for defeating Isis in his Commons statement.

Earlier Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that he believed the Government was building a consensus for military action. Mr Corbyn issued his letter after a meeting of the shadow cabinet failed to reach agreement on Labour's response to the Prime Minister's Commons statement setting out the case for British war planes to extend air strikes into Syria.

In contrast to the party leader, a number of senior Labour figures voiced support for the Prime Minister's position, including shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn who said there were "compelling arguments" for attacking IS - also referred to Isil, Isis or Daesh - in its Syrian heartlands.

In his letter Mr Corbyn said that the shadow cabinet would meet again on Monday in an attempt to reach a "common view".

The Labour leader has previously indicated he does not want to give the party's MPs a free vote on the issue, but with the majority of the shadow cabinet reportedly in favour of military action he may have little choice.

Nevertheless his intervention complicates Mr Cameron's calculations as to whether there is now a Commons majority in support of air strikes on Syria. The Prime Minister has always said he would not stage a vote unless he was sure of winning.

In his letter Mr Corbyn said the key issue was whether attacking IS in Syria would strengthen or undermine Britain's national security.

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