David Cameron brands Jeremy Corbyn a 'terrorist sympathiser'

Posted On: 
2nd December 2015

David Cameron has infuriated Labour by warning Conservatives not to vote with “Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers” when MPs decide on military action in Syria this evening.

The Prime Minister’s comments came when he made the case for intervention to the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs last night and they show the increasing tensions ahead of tonight’s vote.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to push through military action on the back of Conservative MPs' votes alone.

“You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers," he told his MPs.

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The attack was met by an immediate backlash from Labour MPs – regardless of their voting intention on Syria.

A Labour spokesperson described it as a “contemptible and desperate slur which demeans his office”.

Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader who is expected to back the Government this evening, called on the Prime Minister to apologise.

“David Cameron's comment trivialise the decision MPs have to make. MPs from all parties are treating that decision with the seriousness it deserves.

“The Prime Minister should retract and apologise for these remarks, which are disrespectful to those MPs who have a different view to him.”

PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR BOMBING FALLS

New polling released this morning suggests the public remains in favour of the UK joining airstrikes, but that the anti-intervention case is becoming more popular.

A YouGov survey for The Times found 48% of people back extending bombing operations to Syria, down 11% on two weeks ago in the immediate aftermath of the Paris terror attacks.

The number of people disapproving of military action rose by 11 points to 31%, with 21% unsure.

The polling also showed that more Labour voters were now against bombing than in favour, compared to a majority in favour two weeks ago.

COMMONS DEBATE

The Government’s motion is expected to pass comfortably when MPs vote at approximately 10pm this evening after a ten-and-a-half hour debate in the Commons.

David Cameron will open the debate by laying out his argument in favour of intervention,  to which Jeremy Corbyn will respond by making the case against military action.

At the end of the session, Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn will speak from the Labour frontbench in favour of airstrikes.

The Conservatives are expecting a group of a dozen or more rebels to vote against military action.

But that is likely to be counteracted by Labour MPs, who have been given a free vote, who will support the Government. Estimates range between 30 and 70 for the size of the Labour support for intervention.

The Foreign Affairs Committee voted yesterday that the Prime Minister had not “adequately addressed concerns” raised in its report which laid out opposition to the airstrikes.

Mr Cameron published a document trying to convince the committee of his arguments last week.

Despite that vote, Tory MP and committee chairman Crispin Blunt said members of the FAC could vote as they wish today.

‘DEPRESSING’ CRITICISM

Tory MP John Baron, who will be voting against airstrikes, said on Newsnight that we “must not resort to such language” in reference to Mr Cameron’s comments.

Several Labour MPs joined in the criticism on Twitter:

How utterly depressing that this man is Prime Minister. He demeans his office.
https://t.co/uhDwVJEtaW

— Lisa Nandy ()
December 1, 2015

Not the sort of thing I'd expect to hear from a Prime Minister in these circumstances.
https://t.co/aTQRpHgI5R

— Wes Streeting MP ()
December 1, 2015

I'll make my mind up after debate 2morrow but appalled that PM describes those who plan 2 vote against air strikes as terrorist sympathisers

— Gloria De Piero MP ()
December 1, 2015

The country deserves better than this sort of language
https://t.co/e194zxYAk4

— Jonathan Reynolds MP ()
December 1, 2015