Following a ten hour debate in the House of Commons, MPs have voted in favour of joining the bombing campaign of ISIS in Syria.
The vote passed with a convincing majority of 174 for the government, as 397 MPs voted in favour of strikes, and 223 voted against.
With British RAF Tornado GR4s already based in Cyprus, undertaking missions in Iraq for over 12 months, the campaign in Syria could potentially commence within just a few hours.
David Cameron will be pleased with tonight’s result as his government only holds a working majority within the House of Commons of 17. His stance for Britain to extend military action against ISIS into Syria has been unwavering in recent weeks, and that is clearly the sentiment felt by the majority of MPs across all parties.
Following the November 13 attacks in Paris by jihadists, which claimed the lives of over 130 civilians, the Prime Minister pushed for Britain to support its ally France with airstrikes in Syria.
Germany had already promised to support neighbouring France by deploying Tornado jets in the war-torn region, with Angela Merkel declaring it her country’s duty.
The prime minister cited similar reasoning, stating bombing was in Britain’s ‘national interest’ to prevent terror spreading and reaching UK shores.
He said to the house:
Do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?”
Recently elected Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, made no secret of his opposition to David Cameron’s wish to join the bombing campaign in Syria, but stopped short of using the whip system to enforce that view across the party, instead Labour MPs were given a free vote on the matter.
Corbyn did make a strong appeal during the debate for MPs to seriously consider what Cameron was proposing.
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the prime minister understands public opposition to his ill thought-out rush to war is growing – and wants to hold the vote before it slips from his hands.
Whether it’s the lack of a strategy worth the name, the absence of credible ground troops, the missing diplomatic plan for a Syrian settlement, the failure to address the impact on the terrorist threat or the refugee crisis and civilian casualties.
It’s become increasingly clear that the prime minister’s proposals for military action simply do not stack up.”
There was no real surprise that Labour members voted in favour of the government’s proposal, as even the shadow Foreign Secretary delivered a rousing speech that went against the opinion of the party’s leader.
Hilary Benn said to the house that there was a “clear and unambiguous UN resolution” to justify Britain’s military intervention.
Why would we not uphold the settled will of the United Nations?”
Bombing already undertaken in Syria by Russian, French, and US forces, has been subjected to criticism from numerous corners. Many have argued that it would do more harm than good for Britain to join the campaign, potentially causing the radicalisation of Syrians caught in the crossfire.
There were also calls for a credible plan of how to rebuild to be put into place before any military action was given the green light.
Angus Robertson, the Parliamentary Group Leader of the Scottish National party in the House of Commons, warned that Britain would be repeating past mistakes if it rushed into a yes vote.
I appeal to colleagues on all sides to make sure that we do not ignore the lessons of Afghanistan, ignore the lessons of Iraq, ignore the lessons of Libya.
“Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past, let’s not give the green light to military action without a comprehensive and credible plan to win the peace.”
The day did not run entirely smoothly for the PM. He was asked on twelve occasions to apologise for insinuating anyone who voted no is a ‘terrorist sympathiser’. He did not issue any such apology, but told all present that there was honour in voting either yes or no.