WATCH: Labour MPs criticise Jeremy Corbyn over stance on Syria military action

Posted On: 
16th April 2018

Jeremy Corbyn faced a major backlash from his own MPs over his opposition to the Government's decision to join air strikes against Syria.

Chris Leslie was one of a number of Labour MPs who criticised their leader.
Credit: 
Parliament TV

A number of senior Labour backbenchers criticised their party leader as Theresa May told the Commons why she had authorised the targeting of chemical weapons facilities controlled by Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The military action, which also included the American and French air forces, followed the chemical attack on the rebel-held city of Douma last weekend.

Jeremy Corbyn refuses to blame Russia for Salisbury attack despite seeing new evidence

WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn suggests non-Assad groups may have carried out Douma attack

Jeremy Corbyn accuses Theresa May of bowing to Trump on 'legally questionable' Syria strikes

Jeremy Corbyn says Theresa May 'waiting for instructions from Trump' on Syria

The Prime Minister said she had acted in the UK's "national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria - and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used".

Mr Corbyn again said the air strikes were "legally questionable" and that no action should have taken place without the backing of the United Nations.

But former Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie, a long-standing critic of the Labour leader, said: "Would the Prime Minister agree that a policy if inaction also would have severe consequences and that those who would turn a blind eye, who would do nothing in pursuit of some moral high ground, should also be held accountable for once."

Mike Gapes, the Labour MP for Ilford South, referred directly to Mr Corbyn when he said: "Can I remind her and the right honourable member for Islington North that it was a Labour government, with Robin Cook as Foreign Secretary, which carried out air strikes in Iraq under Operation Desert Fox in 1998 without a UN resolution, it was a Labour government that restored President Kabbah in Sierra Leone without a UN resolution, that it was a Labour government that stopped the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo without a UN resolution, and that there is a long-standing and noble tradition on these benches supporting humanitarian intervention."

 

 

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting criticised the Stop The War Coalition, which Mr Corbyn used to chair and which staged a demonstration in Parliament Square to coincide with Mrs May's Commons statement.

He said: "This evening's Stop The War Coalition demonstration should be taking place outside the Russian embassy, not outside this Parliament."

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP for Wakefield, also spoke of "Labour's proud tradition of taking action to intervene in humanitarian protection protection conflicts", while Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said it would be "shameful" if Britain was to drop its support for humanitarian intervention.

However, Mrs May also came under fire for her refusal to seek MPs' approval before the military action took place.

Tory grandee Ken Clarke said: "On the question of the parliamentary role, I think the Prime Minister was not relying on the archaic, narrow interpretation of the Royal prerogative, which no government has invoked in this country for over 50 years - they have always come to Parliament for debates and votes if possible on any military action.

"Surely, once President Trump had announced to the world what he was intending. A widespread debate was taking place everywhere, including MPs in the media, but no debate in Parliament.

"Would she consider setting up a cross-party commission of some kind to set out precisely what the role of Parliament is in modern times in the use of military power against another state?"