Over the weekend, British, French and American armed forces conducted co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use. As you will know, we then heard an update on this action in Parliament as early as possible this week.
The Prime Minister took the tough decision to authorise action with our American and French allies. This was very limited action with a very specific objective in mind. It was to deter Assad using chemical weapons and to re-establish those international norms that prohibit the use of those weapons. It was not about regime change or intervening in a civil war. Recent reports released by the Government also suggest that there were no civilian fatalities as a result of the strikes, which were timed to take place during hours when civilians would not be present in or near the chemical weapons facilities.
Crucially, the military action is not about regime change or intervening in a civil war. It is about preventing further humanitarian catastrophe and restoring the international norm against the use of chemical weapons. I have included a link below to the announcement the Prime Minister made about British involvement in the action, which I hope you will find useful.
You can also find the text of her statement by following this link.
In my opinion it is right that the Government did not stand aside whilst people were being slaughtered by such barbaric means. If we stand up against the normalisation of the use of chemical weapons - whether in Syria or indeed on the streets of this country - then we can reduce dreadful suffering.
The action taken has also been supported by the G7 group of nations, consisting of: Japan, the UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, the US and associate membership of the European Union. You can find the statement by following this link.
Some have said a Parliamentary vote should have taken place to authorise the Prime Minister to use force to deter Assad. Firstly, the constitutional authority to use military force lies with the Prime Minister. By the same measure, Parliament has the authority to hold her and the rest of the Government to account, which is precisely what has taken place following the statement she made and the emergency debate that followed in the House of Commons. Secondly, it is not always going to be suitable to assemble 650 people to debate and then vote on military action that depends on being done at a certain time. By being done overnight, the strikes we have taken part in have degraded Syria's ability to kill people with chemical weapons again, which is the entire point. Finally, the decision the Prime Minister made to launch the strikes against Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles was taken based upon a wealth of intelligence (including some owned by allies) that is not right to give to all MPs because that would be the same as publishing it. For these reasons I think it was right that the PM acted first before coming to Parliament.
The PM is accountable, though. She has spent hours in Parliament answering 140 questions from MPs about her decision, and at the end of this I have included links to sections of what she has said, so you can read it in her own words.
I also received a letter from the Prime Minister. I think you will find it useful in setting out a clear and accurate explanation for British involvement in the strikes. You can also find out more about the UK military action more broadly by following this link. You’ll also find here the legal basis on which the strikes were taken - namely, intervention for humanitarian protection.
I thank all constituents for contacting me to share their views on this most horrific of incidents, a chemical attack going against a century of international norms. I would like to take this opportunity to add one final point, the words offered by the Prime Minister during her announcement of British involvement in the strikes.
“The lesson of history is that when the global rules and standards that keep us safe come under threat – we must take a stand and defend them.
That is what our country has always done.
And that is what we will continue to do.”
They are words I wholly support.