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Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary breaks ranks with Jeremy Corbyn over Syria air strikes

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary breaks ranks with Jeremy Corbyn over Syria air strikes

Liz Bates

2 min read

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith has broken ranks with the Labour leadership over the recent military action taken by Theresa May in Syria.

Speaking at an event held by Labour pressure group Progress, Ms Griffith did not condemn the air strikes, which were launched by Britain, the US and France in response to an alleged chemical assault on civilians in the region.      

The frontbencher suggested MPs “may well” have backed the Prime Minister’s decision had it been put before Parliament, but criticised Number 10 for failing to consult the House beforehand.   

She said: “I think the important thing about that action was that it was very professionally carried out and mercifully there were no civilian casualties, but what people were asking was what’s the strategy?”

“There could easily have been a debate - it may well have decided to back the Prime Minister, but there should have been a debate first.”

Ms Griffith added that the alleged Douma chemical attack was likely carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because of its “scale and sophistication”.

The remarks are in clear defiance of Jeremy Corbyn’s stance over the events, with the Labour leader stopping short of blaming Assad and branding the air strikes “legally questionable”.

Ms Griffith also strongly condemned Russian action in Crimea, describing the region as an “occupied territory”.

“Ukraine has the right to self-determination, the right to join Nato and the right to join the EU,” she said.


Elsewhere, the Shadow Cabinet member called for Corbyn-ally Ken Livingstone, who is currently suspended by Labour over allegations of anti-Semitism, to be “kicked out of the party” permanently.

“I think there is an issue about whether you can make amends and whether you can change and I’ve got no evidence that he is any way, shall we say apologetic, and I think that is a really big issue for me,” she said.


On the issue of Trident, which has caused tension within Labour since anti-nuclear campaigner Mr Corbyn took over the leadership, Ms Griffith said retaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent was “quite clearly” party policy.

Asked if she would step down if the policy changed, she replied: “I think it would be very unlikely that it would change and certainly I would consider my position.”  

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