Military intervention in Syria ‘legally dubious,’ says Labour MP

UK Typhoon jets. © Darren Staples
Military intervention in Syria is legally dubious and Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempt to push parliament into war would be “disrespectful,” Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham has said.

Speaking to the Huffington Post on Monday, Burnham said another vote on intervening in war-torn Syria carries no “urgency.” He added a number of hurdles must be passed before such action can be taken.

Labour, under Ed Miliband, was successful in defeating a motion to bomb Syria in 2013, causing considerable embarrassment to Cameron. Two years later, Burnham has cautioned against a rash move to intervene in the crisis-ridden state. 

The tests are quite big. There’s a very large one about legality first, because it’s not like the 2013 situation,” he said.

This isn’t an invitation by a democratic government to come in, is it?

Falling short of Labour leadership rival Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to address the threat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) by peaceful means, Burnham said he would not rule out military action in Syria.

"ISIL need to be disrupted, of course they do. We would look at it seriously," he said.

The message I would just send back to Cameron at this stage is: treat us with respect because it’s not about the Labour party. The opposition is the country on this, we’ve got to test what they are saying on behalf of the country.

The Labour leadership hopeful warned government not to try and pressure Labour into backing a vote, saying “if they try and bounce the opposition into this they are not treating the country with respect.

We had a swirl of gossip, Parliament was going to be recalled and then we hear the first week when the new Labour leader is elected, it’s going to be right back [in the Commons].

That would be disrespectful to the country,” Burnham said.

The politician’s pledge is a departure from his recent voting record on matters of war and security. He voted strongly for the 2003 Iraq War and against an inquiry into the conflict. The Labour MP is also a supporter of the Trident nuclear missile system.

His comments come as Labour Blairite and Iraq era communications director Alistair Campbell called upon those who wish to see Labour thrive to vote for “anyone but Corbyn.