Plymouth MP defends vote for military action in Syria
I RELUCTANTLY supported the Government to keep all our options open, including any potential use of military force during last week's emergency debate on Syria.
Any use of the military must be a tool in a much wider political strategy and our involvement must be demonstrated to be in Britain's national interest.
Whilst neither the Government's motion nor Labour's amendment ruled out future use of military force, Britain has decided to remove its military arrow from its quiver – for the time being.
I finally decided to vote with the Government after meeting with the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister.
They assured me that the House of Commons would be allowed a second vote before launching missiles and my vote would not be misinterpreted as an amber light for military action.
For months the PM had been urging the US President to take action to give the Syrian opposition a level playing field.
The use of chemical weapons provided him with an excuse to use military force to get President Assad to the negotiating table.
Unfortunately, neither David Cameron nor Ed Miliband had taken into account the views of their respective back benches.
Labour especially is still scarred by the Iraq war.
Mr Miliband had been quite willing to support the Prime Minister until he met with his own backbenchers on Thursday morning and had to quickly draft an amendment– which failed by more than 100 votes.
His subsequent "Love Actually moment" may play well amongst some in the UK, but will be deeply frowned on in Washington.
Nor will the US/UK Special relationship be damaged. After all, it survived Harold Wilson's decision to exclude Britain's involvement from the Vietnam conflict.
Ironically, whilst Congress decides if the US President should be allowed to use military force, Syrian children and civilians are being killed in a very nasty civil war.