A number of my constituents have contacted me over the last week to express your views on whether the UK should launch air-strikes on Syria. As many of you will know this action was approved by the House with 397 votes to 223, a majority of 174, and as many of you will also know, I voted in support of such action.
Let me start by saying, votes such as this one require a great deal of consideration and I took all correspondence I received on this matter into account when I voted last night. Before the vote, I met with both the Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary to discuss this matter in detail and to raise the concerns that I have received from constituents.
As many of you will know, I voted against air strikes in Syria against President Assad in 2013 and last summer I voted against air strikes in Iraq. However, I believe the situation has changed and recent events followed by the UN resolution have demonstrated that something must be done to tackle and confront this evil force. We now have a clear UN Security Council resolution, which calls on member states to take ‘all necessary action’ against ISIL because of the unprecedented threat that ISIL poses to us all.
I am very reluctant to get involved in another Middle East conflict, however I truly believe that the situation now is different and we cannot stand back any longer. Recent events in Paris, Tunisia and the downing of the Russian passenger plane over Sharm el-Sheik have changed events for me – over the last year events have fundamentally altered the climate in which I am required to make this decision. I believe it is right that we stand by our allies and extend these air strikes to degrade and defeat ISIL.
We need to confront the butchers of ISIL and challenge their calculated brutality in Syria, as we are doing in Iraq. It is right that we cross the border that ISIL themselves do not recognise. We know that they are plotting atrocities here in the UK, given that our intelligence services have disrupted no less than seven plots already this year. Given that we know what they are doing, I don’t think we can stand aside any longer. We should act in self-defence against those who are planning these attacks on innocent people here in Britain.
I know some will be upset with my decision to support extending air strikes to Syria, however I believe it is the right thing to do. Whilst I have taken all comments and concerns in to consideration, ultimately it is right that such decisions are made according to conscience. I would like to take this opportunity to assure all of my constituents that I would never make such a decision based upon party politics.