Jo Cox lauds Corbyn's 'brave' shift over Syria

Posted On: 
14th October 2015

A Labour MP pushing for action to protect civilians in Syria has praised Jeremy Corbyn for his “brave and bold” shift over the conflict in the country.

The Labour leader endorsed an article by Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn in this morning’s Guardian, signalling Labour could back strikes against Islamic State in Syria without a UN resolution.

Delegates at the party’s annual conference earlier this month supported a proposal for “clear and unambiguous” UN authorisation if RAF strikes against the militant group are to extend from Iraq into Syria.

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But Mr Benn wrote Labour would “need to look at the position again” if a UN resolution on the matter was vetoed by Russia or China.

Jo Cox, who put forward a plan at the weekend to protect Syrians in their own country, said Mr Corbyn was doing “the right thing”.

She told PoliticsHome: “I think it’s brave and bold of Jeremy to acknowledge that a crisis on the scale of Syria might demand such action.”

She added: “I think it’s a really good shift, and it doesn’t mean we don’t try the UN route - I‘m always a big proponent of going down that route.

“But it means actually accepting that you are willing to intervene to protect civilians; that if there is a viable route it is not ruled out.”

'PRESSURE'

Ms Cox said she was “very happy” the Labour leadership was “going to be much more propositional” in its response to the conflict.

“I think it’s excellent news and it puts pressure on the Government to come back to the House with a comprehensive plan,” she said.

Asked whether grassroots members who had voted for strikes only in the event of a UN resolution would be put out by Labour’s softening on the issue, she said:

“Any backlash I don’t think will be huge. I think most people in the Labour party want it to save lives in Syria and help Syrian refugees, and I think that will be supported.”

Ms Cox and Conservative former minister Andrew Mitchell penned an article at the weekend suggesting troops could enforce “safe havens” for Syrians within their own country, alongside no-fly zones and strikes on so-called Islamic State targets.

But Number 10 appeared unconvinced the plan could “provide greater safety” to those suffering in the region.

JULIAN LEWIS

Elsewhere, chair of the Defence Select Committee Julian Lewis warned Labour that any extension of military action should be backed by local forces on the ground.

He told PoliticsHome: “The only advice I can give to the Labour party is that with or without the support of the United Nations, any sensible parliamentarian should vote against military action in Syria unless this is in support of forces on the ground that are going to eliminate the Daesh menace.”