Extending airstrikes on ISIL / Daesh targets in Syria

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01 December 2015

The issue of extending UK military airstrikes in Iraq against ISIL / Daesh targets, and joining the US and France in extending these into Syria, is incredibly important. I know that it raises deep concerns and strongly held views among many of my constituents. And it will be one of the most difficult decisions Parliament has to take. 

I absolutely understand the concerns people have, and that many are sceptical about the likely outcome of further military action.

But at the same time, there is a growing sense that the fight against ISIL/Daesh cannot be avoided and that they pose a direct threat to our national security, as the Head of MI5 and the Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee have confirmed. This brutal fact has sadly been demonstrated by the recent tragic events in Paris a few weeks ago. 

The Syrian people are facing unimaginable horror. 250,000 people have already been killed and millions displaced by a devastating civil war. Women and children are being sold into sex slavery, raped and killed and gay men are being thrown off rooftops by ISIL/Daesh. 

As you may be aware, UN resolution 2249 has called for member states to “take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law” against Daesh/ISIL and to eradicate the group's safe havens in Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, the French President has personally asked MPs to vote for the UK to join France in extending present action in Iraq, and taking action in Syria.

Of course, the question facing Parliament is whether extending the UK’s involvement in airstrikes against ISIL/Daesh into Syria will make the situation better. This decision is not one that I, or any MP, take lightly. 

I wholeheartedly believe that any action must be accompanied by a clear road map to a political settlement in the region, humanitarian action and a serious commitment to post-conflict reconstruction. The government must provide firm reassurances that these necessary preconditions for any British intervention are met. Indeed, as the motion states, “military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria”.

Having given the matter serious thought, and used the evidence presented and my own conscience as my guide, my intention is to vote in favour of the intervention outlined, alongside renewed diplomatic efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis in a way that reduces the unimaginable human suffering in Syria. Only through agreed international action can we bring an end to the civil war in Syria and thus tackle the refugee crisis and the evil of terrorism. 

Having thought long and hard about the vote, I believe that such action will contribute to a wider initiative to end civil war and secure reconstruction. At the same time, I absolutely believe that the UK needs to use its role in chairing the UN Security Council more effectively, in order to build on the peace plan which was started in Vienna last weekend.

This has not been an easy conclusion to come to, but I truly believe that it is the right one. 

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