MPs' concerns about British involvement in Syria

Jo Platt MP
Jo Platt MP
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Local MPs from opposite sides of the House have condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and expressed reservations about British involvement.

Leigh parliamentary representative Jo Platt and Conservative Chris Green who serves Bolton West in the House of Commons spoke after airstrikes on the war-torn Middle Eastern country took place.

Chris Green MP

Chris Green MP

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There was a cross-party consensus that the use of chemical weapons in conflict was a serious crime but all parties were equally wary of escalating the conflict further.

Ms Platt also expressed her deep concern that Parliament had been sidelined, saying MPs should have had a decisive say as they did in 2013 when military involvement in Syria was voted down.

She also called for alternatives to force to be explored and said there was much more that needed to be done to try to bring stability after years of brutal civil war in Syria.

Mr Green said the recent airstrikes were a one-off event and not necessarily a prelude to deeper British involvement.

Ms Platt said: "The chemical weapons attack in Syria was appalling, clearly in breach of international law and a serious war crime. Parliament should have therefore decided our response to this heinous act and whether military action was appropriate.

"There is a clear precedent in this matter. After a 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria, the then prime minister also concluded that military action was the correct response. But he recalled Parliament during recess and put this decision to a vote where Parliament decided against such action.

"By failing to consult Parliament prior to action, the Prime Minister is restricting our democracy. The action she took over the weekend represents a major part of our foreign policy which Parliament deserved to have been consulted on with a debate and a vote.

"For MPs to read what the UK’s response was by Donald Trump’s tweets is clearly unacceptable.

"While the Prime Minister rightly stated that we needed to take a humanitarian response, I am clear that a military response was not the only action available. Just as the use of chemical weapons should not be normalised, neither should a military response following a humanitarian crisis.

"There was also no convincing argument made that this operation was needed before Parliament was either recalled or returned from recess.

"The action we take in response to a chemical weapons attacks must also be directly in the interests of the Syrian people.

"Rather than acting in retaliation or to reassure ourselves that we have responded, efforts must be made to redouble our aid efforts, increase our work in securing a humanitarian corridor and review our approach to the refugee crisis."

Mr Green, whose constituency includes Atherton, said: “War or military action is the most difficult and most important decision any Prime Minister can make. The conflict in Syria is complex with many different players involved and I am wary of any British involvement in this conflict.

“However, the images we have seen of children subjected to chemical weapons attacks are horrific and abhorrent. We cannot allow the use of these weapons to go unpunished.

“It is important to note that the airstrikes last week were a one-time event, targeted at specific sites involved in the making of chemical weapons."