Cameron rushing to war in Syria because his case is ‘falling apart’ – Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of “bulldozing” ahead with a vote on extending airstrikes from Iraq into Syria because his case for war is weak. MPs will hold a full day of debate Wednesday before the vote.
If Cameron wins the vote, made possible by Corbyn’s decision to allow a free vote among Labour MPs, British warplanes could be seeking to bomb Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) targets in Syria by the end of the week.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Cameron told journalists Britain must “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.”
By early afternoon on Tuesday, the Conservative cabinet had approved a twelve point plan on intervention.
Syria: No10 just released David Cameron's motion for UK military action Tries to meet Labour conference motion tests pic.twitter.com/j1Jy63kuEQ— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) December 1, 2015
After an hour-long meeting opened by Cameron, and during which 20 ministers are said to have aired their support, the plan was accepted.
Corbyn called for two days of debate before the vote, rather than one. He argued that given the complexity of the issue, a single day’s debate could lead to important contributions being missed.
Returning from the Paris climate summit held Monday, Cameron said: “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.”
On Monday night, Corbyn fired back, attributing Cameron’s “rush” to hold the vote to concerns his case for war is “falling apart.”
“By refusing a full two-day debate, David Cameron is demonstrating he knows the debate is running away from him, and that the case he made last week is falling apart,” a spokesperson for Corbyn said.
“The prime minister should stop the rush to war to allow for a full discussion of the issues in parliament. Matters of national security are far too important to be bulldozed through the House of Commons for political convenience.”
The BBC reports that prime minister’s questions (PMQs) will be canceled on Wednesday to allow a debate to carry on from 11:00 a.m. through to 10:00 p.m. that evening.
Projections on how MPs will vote vary, but it has been suggested that around 380 are in favor of war and around 260 are against.
The split in the Labour shadow cabinet over extending strikes to Syria is narrow. However, up to 75 percent of the grassroots Labour Party membership is reportedly against intervention – again highlighting the gulf between the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and the party’s grassroots membership.
Corbyn ally Clive Lewis MP, a former soldier, warned that Labour MPs who vote with the Tories may face the consequences of their actions down the line.
“If there are members of the PLP that want to bomb in Syria and vote with the Tories, then on their heads be it,” he told The Guardian.
“They’ve made that decision, I respect that decision in the sense that they have come to the conclusion they have.
“But if the war in Syria extends, there is a conflagration, there are more terrorist atrocities and the war extends with no end then obviously we will be looking at who voted for this and when the blame is apportioned step forward,” Lewis said.
It was reported in The Daily Mail that eight fighter aircraft – two Tornadoes and six Typhoons – are on standby to fly to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus if a vote is passed.
In a further blow to Cameron’s case, it was also reported by The Daily Mail, though not confirmed by the military, that Britain has only 10 Brimstone missiles – hardware that Cameron referred to as part of the UK’s “unique capabilities” in his House of Commons statement on Syria last week.
Besides the availability of bombs, there are also unanswered questions hanging over Cameron’s ambition of assembling 70,000 anti-ISIS fighters in Syria to fight ISIS.
Following Cameron’s statement, Defence Select Committee Chairman Julian Lewis MP said he was “extremely surprised” by the PM’s claim of “70,000 Syrian opposition fighters on the ground who do not belong to extremist groups.”
Lewis further told Sky News that the figure appeared “magical.”