Syria air strikes provoke mixed reaction
Politicians have aired their views on the decision to launch co-ordinated air strikes on Syria.
Theresa May has faced both support and criticism from politicians across the UK after Britain launched strikes on Syria overnight alongside the US and France.
The Prime Minister said she judged the operation to be in Britain’s national interest, adding that there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force”.
Her decision came despite demands from opposition parties that Parliament was consulted before any military action was launched.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson backed the PM, writing on Twitter that the world was “united in its disgust for any use of chemical weapons, but especially against civilians”.
Welcome the news of UK military strikes against major chemical weapons facilities in Syria alongside our US and French allies. The world is united in its disgust for any use of chemical weapons, but especially against civilians— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 14, 2018
Other Tory MPs also publicly voiced their support, with Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall saying: “Speed is essential. A clear signal to anyone who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.”
Newark MP Robert Jenrick said: “My thoughts are with our servicemen and women – and those of our US and French allies. The cost to President Assad of using heinous chemical weapons must be higher than any perceived benefit. I strongly support the PM’s decision.”
My thoughts are with our servicemen and women - and those of our US and French allies. The cost to President Assad of using heinous chemical weapons must be higher than any perceived benefit. I strongly support the PM’s decision. https://t.co/96oFmAAchD— Robert Jenrick MP (@RobertJenrick) April 14, 2018
However, Stewart McDonald, the Scottish National Party spokesman for defence, said UK forces had been engaged in “gesture bombing with no major international consensus”.
“Most worrying is that she has acted at the behest of presidential tweets and sidelined Parliament,” he said on Twitter.
“What does this new bombing campaign do to help move Syria towards peace? Nothing.
“Instead, it has the potential to dangerously complicate the war, making matters on the ground worse for the people that the strikes are supposed to help. There is no peace strategy.”
We need a plan for peace in Syria. A bombing, allegedly a one off affair does not aid this. The UK Parliament now needs an urgent debate on Syria not just a Prime Ministerial statement, something that should have happened before any action.— Ian Blackford (@IanBlackfordMP) April 14, 2018
European Council president Donald Tusk said the European Union would stand with its allies “on the side of justice”.
“Strikes by US, France and UK make it clear that Syrian regime together with Russia & Iran cannot continue this human tragedy, at least not without cost,” he wrote on Twitter.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said questions remained about how peace could be brought to Syria.
She wrote: “My first thoughts this morning are with the service personnel called to action.
“Syria’s use of chemical weapons is sickening – but the question that the PM has not answered is how this action, taken without parliamentary approval, will halt their use or bring long-term peace.”
Air strikes have not resolved situation in Syria so far - nothing I’ve heard persuades me they will do so now. An international strategy for peace must be pursued - not a course that risks dangerous escalation. UK foreign policy should be set by Parliament, not US President.— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 14, 2018
SNP MP Ian Blackford said there needed to be an international response to “heinous” chemical weapon attacks, adding: “That has not happened. I regret that the overnight attacks have come before we have an informed debate in the UK Parliament as to alternatives to bombing.”
The House of Commons is elected to represent the people of our country and to hold our Executive to account. Parliament should have been recalled and consulted before we engaged in this military action in Syria.— Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_MP) April 14, 2018
Labour MP Owen Smith attacked the decision, writing on Twitter: “The House of Commons is elected to represent the people of our country and to hold our Executive to account.
“Parliament should have been recalled and consulted before we engaged in this military action in Syria.”
Foreign policy think tank the Henry Jackson Society praised the Government for “taking resolute action in Syria”.
Executive director Dr Alan Mendoza said: “It would be grossly irresponsible of us to stand idly by and watch as the Syrian people are murdered in this fashion.
“To do so would normalise the use of chemical weapons, inviting Assad and other dictators to carry on deploying them with impunity.
“This cannot be a token effort to demonstrate our outrage. We need a serious and sustained response to deter further unacceptable and intolerable actions by a reckless regime.”
Elsewhere, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament attacked the strikes and criticised Mrs May for bypassing Parliament.
Corbyn , Abbott and Labour should reflect that this action in Syria took place because the first time Assad gassed his own people they voted to do nothing. So he did it again..and again. Yet still Corbyn would do nothing...— Ben Wallace MP (@BWallaceMP) April 14, 2018
General secretary Kate Hudson said: “We strongly condemn these air strikes on Syria, which are in defiance of international law.
“They will only increase the likelihood of this terrible conflict spilling over into the wider Middle East and potentially beyond that.
“We also condemn Theresa May’s decision to bypass Parliament, which demonstrates a contempt for the necessary democratic process.
“She has also disregarded public opinion in launching these strikes; polls indicate that only 22% of the population support this bombing campaign.”
Minister for Security Ben Wallace tweeted: “Corbyn, Abbott and Labour should reflect that this action in Syria took place because the first
time Assad gassed his own people they voted to do nothing. So he did it again … and again. Yet still Corbyn would do nothing…”