Thu, 9 December 2021

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
For trade deals to succeed the government must put consumers first Partner content
Press releases

John Woodcock calls on Labour MPs to "rise above" Jeremy Corbyn and back Syria strikes

John Woodcock calls on Labour MPs to 'rise above' Jeremy Corbyn and back Syria strikes
2 min read

John Woodcock has urged fellow Labour MPs to back military action in Syria, as the outspoken backbencher took aim at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The UK, US and France are currently weighing up a response following last weekend's chemical attack which left dozens of civilians dead. Theresa May is chairing a Cabinet meeting to discuss the UK’s reaction, but the Labour leader has urged restraint and warned that "more bombing, more killing, more war will not save life”.

Woodcock - a frequent critic of the Labour leader - issued the plea to his backbench colleagues in a piece for the Evening Standard, arguing that Britain had “a moral imperative” to deter the future use of chemical weapons.

“As scores lies dead in the city of Douma, the UK should be part of a united front which makes clear that the use of these evil weapons will always attract severe consequences,” he wrote.

“If the Government can rediscover the will to protect civilians against this growing threat, I am confident many Labour MPs will want to play their part and rise above the excuses and diversions which emanate from the shadow front bench whenever there is a crisis.”

The Barrow and Furness MP warned that inaction in Syria to date had allowed Bashar al-Assad’s regime to “rain gas on his citizens with minimal sanction”, and said it was “vital that the global community, including Britain, now acts concertedly and firmly as America did alone last year”.

Woodcock has frequently clashed with the Labour frontbench in recent months, accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to challenge Russia in his response to the Salisbury spy poisoning. PoliticsHome revealed earlier this week that the Labour MP is coming under pressure from his local party because of his comments.

His comments on Syria come after two of Woodcock's Labour colleagues who voted against David Cameron’s failed 2013 bid to punish Assad for the use of chemical weapons hinted that they would now be willing to back such a move.

Former frontbencher Pat McFadden told HuffPost UK his 2013 vote against airstrikes was “the single vote that has troubled me most in my 13 years as an MP”.

He added: “I don’t have a problem in principle with trying to restate the red line on the use of chemical weapons.”

Former minister Chris Leslie meanwhile also expressed regret about his 2013 vote.

While HuffPost reports that he is considering backing any new involvement, he told the site that Parliament would need to be consulted “if there are long term consequences and serious and significant British deployments” involved.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe


Foreign affairs