DAVID Cameron is understood to be winning over MPs on IS air strikes in Syria as former Conservative rebels and Labour members are increasingly convinced by the Prime Minister’s case for action.
But, after weeks of speculation, anti-war Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed yesterday that he will not personally back strikes and his shadow cabinet are still trying to find a ‘common view’.
The Yorkshire Tory MPs who voted against bombing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in 2013 have now indicated that hitting IS could be effective but will use the weekend to study Mr Cameron’s dossier on intervention in detail.
The Labour shadow cabinet may seek to whip members against backing strikes but that would spark a major rebellion, and The Yorkshire Post understands some in Labour believe a majority for David Cameron is already secure.
Just hours before Mr Corbyn’s announcement, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn highlighted his division with his leader by saying Britain should be in solidarity with France, which has requested British air support.
Mr Cameron said yesterday: “We can’t wait for a political transition, we have to hit these terrorists in their heartlands right now and we must not shirk our responsibility for security or hand it to others.
“We can’t wait for a political transition, we have to hit these terrorists in their heartlands right now and we must not shirk our responsibility for security or hand it to others.”PM David Cameron
“Throughout our history the United Kingdom has stood up to defend our values and our way of life. We can, and we must, do so again.”
He delivered a thorough analysis of how taking action would defeat the IS ‘death cult’ and said a political post-conflict solution is possible, but that it should not include President Assad.
He reeled off a list of Royal Air Force hardware that would assist allies, including Brimstone miissiles, Raptor camera pods and Reaper drones, but said strikes would be coupled with a £1bn fund to help stabilise the country.
The strategy is also based on the backing of 70,000 moderate personnel on the ground from the Free Syrian Army and Peshmerga Kurd fighters.
However, MPs have queried whether the ground troops have the capacity to realistically hold land from IS, and the Free Syrian Army are currently fighting Assad’s forces.
This weekend undecided Tory MPs can expect to get a phone call from the party to encourage them to back the Prime Minister, who has a majority of just 12.
Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, Andrew Percy, who voted against action in 2013, said it looked increasingly likely the Prime Minister would get his support. Rebel Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, said he was prepared to back strikes on IS ‘only’ and that a motion should not give ‘wriggle room’ to attack Assad. Another rebel from 2013, Jason McCartney, said he could end up supporting it, but there is much to consider.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he expects many Labour MPs to back strikes.