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Tory rebel: PM must think again


David Cameron ruled out UK involvement in military action against Syria after the Government's defeat in the Commons

David Cameron ruled out UK involvement in military action against Syria after the Government's defeat in the Commons

PA Archive/Press Association Images

David Cameron ruled out UK involvement in military action against Syria after the Government's defeat in the Commons

A leading Tory rebel said he was "pleased the Prime Minister has listened" but insisted he was voting about Syria and not David Cameron's leadership.

Basildon and Billericay MP John Baron voted against the Government tonight in a Commons vote which saw Mr Cameron's administration defeated by 13 votes on a motion about military intervention in Syria.

Mr Baron staged a Commons debate demanding MPs get to vote on military action in Syria before the summer recess.

Speaking to the Press Association less than an hour after the vote, Mr Baron said: "I think this is a result which will hopefully encourage the Prime Minister to think again about intervening in what is viscious civil war. You will have to ask others (about Mr Cameron's position). I voted on the issue, not on the leadership. It was wrong to press for intervention in my view. I'm pleased Parliament has spoken. All I would say is that I'm pleased he has listened."

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the Prime Minister had failed to convince his own MPs. "I think there is an issue now that the relationship between Mr Cameron as Prime Minister and many of his own MPs is now fractured," he told Sky News. "They're unwilling to take him at his word, unwilling to accept his assurances and reassurances and that's why such a substantial number voted with Labour this evening."

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Michael Gove shouted "a disgrace, you're a disgrace" at Conservative and Liberal Democrat rebels in the House of Commons, the Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Angus Robertson told Sky News.

"Obviously emotions are running very high at Westminster tonight," he said. "This is an unprecedented defeat for the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, for the Prime Minister David Cameron and for Nick Clegg, so obviously there were senior figures in the Government who were very upset that a number of their colleagues voted against the Government and abstained.

"I watched the English Education Secretary Michael Gove shout, 'a disgrace, you're a disgrace' at a number of Conservative and Lib Dem rebels. He had to be persuaded to calm down by a number of his colleagues. I retorted, 'It's called democracy', because that was what happened. We have finally learned the lessons from Iraq."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told BBC's Newsnight programme that Mr Cameron was "disappointed" by the vote but was clear that "the mood of Parliament is that Britain should not be involved in military action and Britain will not be involved in military action". He said: "We are now clear that we are not now going to be part of any military action - that probably means we will not be part of any planning or discussion.

"It is certainly going to put a strain on the special relationship. The Americans do understand the parliamentary process that we have to go through. They have always understood that in order to be involved in military action we would have to secure the consent of Parliament. I think perhaps they have been surprised by the scale of opposition in parliament - perhaps they will struggle a bit to understand the special reasons there are for that view. Common sense must tell us that the Assad regime is going to be a little bit less uncomfortable tonight as a result of this decision in Parliament."