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Theresa May wins Commons vote on Syrian action as inspectors set to visit site

By Joe Watts

Theresa May has won a second symbolic vote on her decision to launch air strikes, following another day of fraught parliamentary debate on Syria.

The prime minister's advisors believe the result shows she has successfully navigated difficulties arising from her move to push ahead with a military operation without first consulting MPs.

But Jeremy Corbyn used the debate to demand the Commons "take back our control" of decisions to launch any military action, with a new War Powers Act.

It came as inspectors were set to finally make it to the site of the alleged Douma chemical weapons attack today.

Ahead of the Commons vote on Syria, she told MPs that coming to parliament before undertaking military action would "compromise the effectiveness of our operations and safety of British servicemen and women".

She attacked the suggestion of a War Powers Act, claiming it would remove "vital flexibility" from situations which are "by definition unpredictable".

She went on: "Making it unlawful for Her Majesty's Government to undertake any such military intervention without a vote would seriously compromise our national security, our national interests, and the lives of British citizens at home and abroad.

"And for as long as I'm prime minister, that will never be allowed to happen."

A vote related to the Syria action was already won by the Government on Monday, though it was not on a substantive motion - one that explicitly seeks to approve the action or not.

The motion of yesterday's vote, which stated the Commons has "considered parliament's rights in relation to the approval of military action by British forces", was also neutral in tone.

But Mr Corbyn called on his own MPs to vote against it, despite Labour having called the debate, to show opposition over how they believe the Government side-lined parliament in relation to the military action.

Before the motion was passed by 317 to 256, Mr Corbyn's speech was met with bad-tempered heckling from Tory MPs.

Outlining his proposed War Powers Act, the Labour leader said it was for the Commons "to take matters into its own hands and take back our control".

He added: "There's no more serious issue in decisions made by parliament on matters of war and peace, and the Government taking planned military action."

He continued: "I've outlined the caveats that are there in a case of overriding emergency, but I do think it is very important that the House of Commons, as one of the oldest parliaments in the world, holds the Government to account."

Earlier yesterday, Mrs May accused Moscow of preventing inspectors for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from reaching Douma.

Russian officials at OPCW headquarters in The Hague later said arrangements were being made for the inspectors to travel to the site on Wednesday.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has flatly denied that Russia had "tampered" with the evidence and insisted there is no proof that chemical weapons had even been used in the Syrian city.

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