Tom Richmond: Theresa May’s leadership on Syria leaves Jeremy Corbyn under fire

Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons over her decision to launch air strikes against Syria.
Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons over her decision to launch air strikes against Syria.
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BY all accounts, Theresa May was warned by Brexit Secretary David Davis – and others – that she would pay a political price for authorising airstrikes against Syria without Parliament’s prior approval.

Yet, because the military action was carefully co-ordinated to curtail the evil Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, and the humanitarian and legal case was set out with great clarity, her reputation was, in fact, enhanced.

So much so that William Hague, a former Foreign Secretary, now believes he was in the wrong when he suggested Parliament – not the Prime Minister – should have the final say on such matters.

And, while Tories were largely supportive of the PM, the same could not be said of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as the stance taken by his backbenchers disintegrated in a matter of minutes.

First Chris Leslie, the former Shipley MP, asked Mrs May: “Does the Prime Minister agree that a policy of inaction would also have severe consequences and that those who would turn a blind eye – who would do nothing in pursuit of some moral high ground – should today also be held accountable for once?”

He only had one target – Mr Corbyn – and struck. So did Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, who declared minutes later: “We need a Prime Minister and European leaders to show the way in these troubled times. Does the Prime Minister agree?” She did – with alacrity.

And then Crewe MP Laura Smith, in coming to her leader’s defence, showed Labour’s true colours with an attack on Donald Trump before asking: “I wonder whether the Prime Minister can tell us at what point the president instructed her that military action would be taken.”

Mrs May paused – for many seconds as she stared at the Opposition front bench – before declaring, “At no point at all”. Not only are such personal insults on matters of national security out of place, but the likes of Ms Smith showed this week that a Corbyn government would be taking its orders from the Kremlin – and any other enemy of Britain – unless pragmatists like Barry Sheerman and Chris Leslie can regain their party, and its proud record on humanitarianism, from the Momentum mob.

You have been warned.

DESPITE criticising her own department for losing sight of individuals over the Windrush scandal, Home Secretary Amber Rudd declined an invitation to work for a day in the constituency office of Labour MP Jess Phillips to sees the issues and challenges from her perspective.

This is a missed opportunity. If Ms Rudd did so, she would realise that bureaucracy and officialdom treats ordinary MPs very differently to those who occupy Great Offices of State and can pull rank and use their status for effect. And she might then be better placed to order her officials to raise their game.

THE devolution debate here has, rightly, focused on infrastructure investment and economic growth.

However Lord O’Shaughnessy, a junior Health Minister, cited in a Parliamentary debate this week the increased public health powers given to Greater Manchester and its #GMMoving plan to fight obesity and increase participation.

“We see an opportunity at a city-wide level – mirroring the Amsterdam example – to get all the agencies around the table to act,” he said.

Let’s hope this region seizes the moment too and builds on the example of the county’s sports competitors who enabled Yorkshire to finish fourth in the Commonwealth Games medal table.

INTERESTING local election tactics by Labour in Leeds. The party’s leaflet, posted through my letterbox, says Labour is the ‘real Yorkshire Party’.

They’re clearly waking up to the fact that they did not do enough for the region when last in power – and when so many of the area’s MPs served in Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s Cabinets – and are fearful of the genuine Yorkshire Party.

TALKING of Labour, the leaflet being circulated by candidates in Guiseley and Rawdon includes an endorsement by Paul Truswell, the MP for Pudsey from 1997 to 2010.

No mention is made of the party’s newly selected prospective Parliamentary candidate Jane Aitchison, who regularly uses a four letter word begin with ‘s’ to denigrate all-comers.

THE issue of regional spending came up at transport questions in the House of Commons this week. You won’t be surprised to learn that Chris Grayling – known as ‘Failing’ in these parts – sat it out and left the issue to his deputy Jo Johnson to answer. If the Transport Secretary’s record is as good as he makes out, why did he not defend himself?

TOADY of the week is Tory MP Huw Merrian who asked Home Secretary Amber Rudd to welcome the recruitment of 200 extra police officers in his Sussex constituency – and the neighbouring seat of Hastings. She wasn’t going to say ‘no’ – she’s been MP for Hastings and Rye from 2010 and saw her Commons majority cut to a slender 346 votes in last June’s General Election.

TALK about crassness. After falling from the Yorkshire horse I Just Know, trained by Sue and Harvey Smith, in the Grand National, jockey Danny Cook is given a slapped wrist for waving the remaining runners around Becher’s Brook while medics treated a fellow rider who had also come to grief.

Sorry, but they should have been giving him a medal for minimising the risk as a couple of riderless horses galloped towards the fence. Well done Danny for your actions – and standing up for common sense. Someone has to.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk