David Cameron under pressure to take second Syria vote
David Cameron is coming under pressure to make fresh attempts to get Parliament to back military action in Syria as a Westcountry MP said it would be "shameful" if Britain was to "stand on the sidelines".
The Prime Minister ruled out sending in British forces following a humiliating defeat in the Commons last week. But the prospect of Parliament revisiting the issue was yesterday raised as MPs officially returned to Westminster.
Repeated calls came as US president Barack Obama seeks congressional support for a "punishment" strike, and amid revelations that the US has evidence of sarin gas use in Syria after testing samples of hair and blood.
Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter and a former Cabinet minister, insisted British forces could still be deployed following the atrocity on the outskirts of Damascus and said the Prime Minister acted "petulantly" immediately after the 13-vote defeat by dismissing a second vote.
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The Government, in turn, has accused Labour of dividing the Commons by refusing to back the Government motion last week and proposing a separate amendment, which was also rejected.
Amid mixed messages from ministers, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that there would be no second vote unless circumstances changed "very significantly", leaving ministers wriggle room.
But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he couldn't "foresee any circumstances" where there would be a second vote, adding that the Government was "not going to keep asking the same question of Parliament again and again".
Mr Bradshaw, who voted for the Labour amendment but abstained from the Government motion, said: "When MPs were voting last Thursday most of us were voting not for immediate action or no action, but for the Government to come back after a United Nations process and presenting the evidence for a second vote in the next week or so.
"We were gobsmacked when Cameron petulantly ruled out another vote.
"Are we really saying that if Assad continues to murder women and children with chemical weapons in even greater numbers than he already has, Britain would just stand on the sidelines? It's shameful."
Over the weekend, Westcountry peer Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader and ex-Somerset MP, also raised the prospect of British support being put back on the table, arguing Parliament could "reconsider its position".
London mayor Boris Johnson also joined the chorus, insisting there was "no reason" why a renewed bid for parliamentary support could not still be made.
But Devon MP Sarah Wollaston dismissed those demanding a second vote, arguing an Arab League state should lead any attacks, with "backing from us, not the other way around".