Local MP backs Syria strike in Commons vote

A Syrian Army tank
A Syrian Army tank

Local MP Sir Robert Smith has told the Piper about his “severe reservations” when voting on the possibility of a military strike on Syria.

MPs from across the UK were called back from their summer recces to vote on whether Britain should intervene in the two-year-old conflict.

The vote was originally intended to give parliamentary approval for action after the recent chemical gas attack, widely believed to be carried out by the Assad regime, which killed at least 355 people in Damascus.

A new version was later put forward expressing support in principle for military intervention.

The vote was narrowly defeated by thirteen votes in the House of Commons meaning there will be no British military action in Syria.

Sir Robert, who was very strongly against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, said: ““When I set off to fly to London on Wednesday evening I was expecting to have to vote on an immediate decision as to whether the UK should take part in military action in response to the reports of chemical weapons use in Syria.

“I had severe reservations about the risk of starting something that could escalate out of control, though I recognised the genuine concern at the chemical weapons attack. I was going to listen to the debate, but was minded to vote against allowing military action.

But the member had a changed his mind before the vote: “However, the Government motion when it was published was a compromise that specifically ruled out any military action without another debate and specific vote. Having listened to the debate I voted for the motion to condemn the use of chemical weapons clear in the knowledge that when the time came I could vote against any action that risked making the situation worse.”