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11 Apr, 2018 16:29

Theresa May calls for ‘more evidence’ before military action in Syria – right out of Corbyn's book?

Theresa May calls for ‘more evidence’ before military action in Syria – right out of Corbyn's book?

As Theresa May dithers on joining Donald Trump's expected military action on Syria, reportedly waiting for more evidence, is the prime minister now following Jeremy Corbyn's much-criticized cautious approach?

John Baron, Tory MP for Basildon and Billericay, backs May's reportedly wary response, saying: "If you haven't got clarity with regard to our objectives, you end up being led by events. Our track record of understanding events on the ground and the consequences of those actions has been poor."

The UK PM's request for “more evidence” during private phone calls with the US president, reported by the Times, is seemingly a contrast to the public broadcasts she has made. Along with her top government officials, May has made clear who she suspects bears the guilt for the alleged chemical atrocity in Douma, Syria, on Saturday, pointing the finger at President Bashar Assad, aided by Russia.

On Wednesday, May told reporters in Birmingham: "All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible, and we'll be working with our closest allies to consider how we can ensure that those responsible are held to account." Guarded in private but preparing for the likelihood of war in the public sphere, May seems to want to have her cake and eat it.

The PM appears to be allowed to play by a different rulebook to that of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, when it comes to foreign policy and national security issues, especially when a country such as Russia is involved.

It continues a theme over the last few months, where Corbyn has been lambasted for his responses even though he has been consistent on both the Skripal poisoning case and now the alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack.

On both events, Corbyn has called for full investigations, refraining from apportioning blame or threatening any state or individuals with retaliatory action before clear evidence has been ascertained and international law has been seen through.

On the Skripal incident, Corbyn said: "There must be a thorough investigation into these shocking events. We need to see both the evidence and a full account from the Russian authorities in light of the emerging facts."

You might have thought this cool-headed response would receive widespread approval, especially when the threat of war looms large. However, that’s not the case when it comes to certain parts of the media, Tory MPs, and even some of his own Labour MPs.

On the alleged attack in Douma, Corbyn struck a similar tone. "The horrific deaths and injuries in Douma point to a chemical attack which must be fully investigated by the UN and those responsible held to account. The need to restart real negotiations for peace and a political settlement in Syria could not be more urgent."

Again, how is this any different to what Theresa May is reportedly calling for in a private call to the US president?

In addition Labour's official statement reaffirmed Corbyn's position, calling for "a full and independent investigation" of the "reported attack, and that anyone found responsible for using chemical weapons is brought to justice."

It added: "The Syrian people have suffered too long from the atrocities and brutality of war, whether committed by the Assad regime, by Jihadist militias, or by their respective international supporters."

The response from Tory ministers, such as MP Sajid Javid, was derision.

The question for Javid and others of his ilk is this: where is your derision now for May? Your contempt for her not explicitly broadcasting to the world who the perpetrators of Saturday's alleged atrocity in Douma are and the affirmative action to be taken is nowhere to be seen.

Theresa May and her government apparently do not require a full investigation to take place so that clear evidence can be provided regarding the Skripal poisoning case – yet the same protagonists are reportedly applying different laws of examination when it comes to Syria.

Corbyn is fast becoming Theresa May's virtual phone a friend in times of international crisis…. even if she doesn't know it.

First they came to steal his domestic policies, now it looks like the Tories are trying to imitate his international diplomacy skills with calls of "we want evidence" first. Whatever next? Advice on the best root vegetable to grow in their allotments?

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