The Prime Minister could push for vote on Syrian airstrikes even if there’s no UN backing

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 18, 2015. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 18, 2015. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
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DAVID Cameron has said doing what’s legal and in the interests of Britain is more significant than UN backing over potential Syrian air strikes.

During Prime Minister’s Questions at lunchtime today he said that UN support is ‘always preferable’ in circumstances of war but that he wasn’t going to let Russia’s threats to block a resolution affect British safety.

Mr Cameron said: “It’s always preferable in these circumstances to have the full backing on the UN Security Council, but what matters most in all of this is that any action we would take would both be legal and would help protect our country and our people right here.

“You cannnot out source to a Russian veto the decisions that we need to keep our country safe.”

He said Russia has different aims to Britain in resolving the conflict in Syria, and that they have ‘repeatedly threated to veto any such resolution’.

Angus Robsertson, of the SNP, told the Prime Minister that a recent survey found that just 15% of people in Britain believe the country should independently launch airstrikes.

However Mr Cameron said ‘he couldn’t be clearer’ that of course UN backing is ‘always preferable’ on planning for action in the Middle East.

“But if they are vetoed, or threatened with a veto over and over again my job frankly as Prime Minister is frankly not to read a Survation opinion poll but do to the right thing to keep the country safe,” he added.

Britain carried out military action on Kosovo in the 1990s with NATO, but without UN backing, and again the country didn’t have the Security Council’s authorisation when they went to war in Iraq in 2003.

The Labour Party has said that air strikes should only be carried out with the authorisation of the UN Security Council, and this is a view shared by leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow foreign secretary and Leeds Central MP, Hilary Benn.

Only a political solution with a comprehensive plan for the survival of the Syrian state would bring an end to the civil war, a spokesperson said, and during Prime Minister’s Questions there were shouts across the Commons that UN permission ‘is mandatory’ from a Labour MP.

The spokesperson said they look forward to seeing the Government’s strategy for Syria, which it will set out in two weeks time.

He said: “The Labour Party agreed at its conference this Autumn that there should be no support for military action in Syria expect with support of a UN Secturity Council resolution

“That was also agreed between shadow cabinet members this last weekend, it was the point made by Hilary Benn.

“It’s the point that Jeremy made in his response on the G20 statement yesterday and that was supported by Hilary Benn - it’s the common view of the Labour leadership.”

In an interview with the BBC at lunchtime, Hilary Benn backed Mr Corbyn, and said the Government should seek a political solution and a UN Security Council resolution because it’s the ‘chaos of the civil war’ which is creating the vacuum in which Islamic State is thriving.

He said if Russia were to unreasonably veto plans for action they would ‘need to look again’ at the problem, but he is urging the Prime Minister to seek a resolution first.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn and I are calling on the PM to seek a resolution.

“Given four of the five members want action, then I hope it will be possible to achieve one.”

Efforts to stem the cash flow to Isis, and consider sanctions against banks and companies that turn a blind eye to transactions from the terrorist organisation were raised by Mr Corbyn, however the Prime Minister said it shouldn’t be the priority.

He replied: “Yes go after the money, go after the banks, cut off their supplies but don’t make that a substitute for the action that’s required to beat these people where they are.”