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Prime Minister to recommend Commons vote on airstrikes

By Andrew Woodcock

Published 01/12/2015

David Cameron is to push for a vote, while Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn called for a two-day debate
David Cameron is to push for a vote, while Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn called for a two-day debate

Prime Minister David Cameron is to start the countdown to UK military action in Syria by telling Cabinet colleagues he is recommending a House of Commons vote on Wednesday on air strikes against the Islamic State terror group.

The Prime Minister's decision to call a vote comes after Labour MPs were granted a free vote on military action, paving the way for Mr Cameron to secure the "clear majority" he wants.

In a statement at 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron said he would put his plan to Cabinet at its regular meeting today.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had called for the PM to offer MPs a full two days of debate on the floor of the Commons before they decide whether to give the go-ahead to the extension of RAF bombing missions against IS from Iraq into Syria. Labour said the vote should not be held until next week at the earliest.

Speaking after his return from the climate summit in Paris, Mr Cameron said: "I can announce that I will be recommending to Cabinet that we hold a debate and a vote in the House of Commons to extend the airstrikes that we have carried out against Isil in Iraq to Syria, that we answer the call from our allies and work with them because Isil is a threat to our country and this is the right thing to do."

Mr Cameron said he believed there was "growing support across Parliament for the compelling case there is to answer the call from our allies to act against Isil in Syria and Iraq".

Confining RAF action to Iraq "makes no sense" when IS itself does not recognise its border with Syria, he said, adding: "It is in the national interest, it is the right thing to do, we will be acting with our allies, we will be careful and responsible as we do so, but in my view it is the right thing to do this to keep our country safe."

Asked why he had not complied with Mr Corbyn's call for a two-day debate, Mr Cameron said: "We will make sure that we have a very long and full debate on Wednesday and we will take the action necessary to make sure we have, in many ways, the equivalent number of questions we would often have across a two-day debate in one day. I want MPs to be able to have full consideration, to make speeches, to make points, to ask me questions, to examine the Government's case."

Mr Cameron acknowledged it would "take time" for his strategy to effect change in Syria.

"This whole strategy will take time, but it is the right thing to do," he said. "To make sure we go after the terrorists who threaten people in our country just as they attacked and killed those people on the streets of Paris, the streets of Ankara and the streets of Beirut, and indeed British people on the beaches of Tunisia."

Mr Corbyn has made clear his opposition to the extension of airstrikes, but a fraught two-hour meeting of the shadow cabinet heard that as many as 43% of Labour MPs - almost 100 of the 231-strong parliamentary party - were ready to back military action, against 57% - around 132 - who would follow their leader into the No lobby. This would provide Mr Cameron with an assurance that he can avoid a repeat of his defeat in 2013, when he sought approval to launch action against the regime of Syria's president Bashar Assad.

Belfast Telegraph

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