Shadow Foreign Sec Thornberry condemns hypocrisy of govt figures pushing for Syria intervention

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. © Paul Ellis
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has accused the British establishment of preferring “brinkmanship” to “statesmanship,” during a Commons debate on the Syrian conflict.

She told her fellow MPs that it was inadmissible that the government expressed concern over the Syrian civilians trapped in the five-year war, while it continued selling arms to allies in the region.

“If we say those things about Russia and Aleppo we must be prepared for what they say about Saudi Arabia and Yemen,” she said on Tuesday.

“We cannot condemn one and continue selling arms to the other, we cannot call for investigations into one and say to the other that we are happy for them to investigate themselves. We cannot pour scorn on the assurances of one that they have not hit civilian targets while blithely accepting the assurances of the other. Most of all, Mr Speaker, We cannot cry for the people of Aleppo and the suffering they face while turning a blind eye to the million children in Yemen facing starvation.”

Thornberry also challenged the government on its eagerness to intervene in the war in Syria, standing firmly against a no-fly zone and arguing for “more statesmanship and less brinkmanship.”

She insisted that she was “not a pacifist” but added: “Personally I believe that in a multi-playered, multi-faceted civil war such as Syria, the last thing we need is more parties bombing. What we need is a ceasefire and in fact for people to draw back."

The no-fly zone came as a suggestion from her opponent, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said during the three-hour debate that the “House and our constituents are disgusted by the behavior of Assad and his regime.

“In Moscow and in Damascus I hope they will hear the message from British MPs that we are willing to consider anything, honestly and practically, that can be done to bring peace and hope back to Syria.”