UK parliament to vote on Syria airstrikes Wednesday: Cameron
In a file picture taken on September 27, 2014 a Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado GR4 jet prepares to land at the Akrotiri British airbase in Cyprus after returning from a mission to strike Daesh militants in Iraq. (AFP/File)
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Britain’s parliament will debate and vote on plans for airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday.
In a broadcast that ended weeks of speculation over whether he would call a vote, Cameron said he wanted to extend Britain’s existing air campaign against Daesh in Iraq to cover targets in Syria, such as the group’s center of operations in Raqqa.
“I can announce that I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow that we hold a debate and a vote in the House of Commons to extend the air strikes that we have carried out against ISIL [Daesh] in Iraq to Syria, that we answer the call from our allies and work with them because ISIL is a threat to our country and this is the right thing to do,” Cameron said in a recorded statement.
The question of airstrikes has divided lawmakers. The announcement reflected the government’s increasing confidence that it has sufficient numbers to win a vote.
Ministers previously said they would not call the vote if they could not be certain of winning.
Cameron said support was growing across parliament for “the compelling case” to strike Daesh. “The headquarters of the terrorists is in Syria and it makes no sense to recognize this border in the action we take when ISIL themselves don’t recognize this border,” he added.
Earlier Monday the main opposition Labour Party decided to grant its MPs a free vote on the issue, allowing them to vote according to their own consciences.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is opposed to further British airstrikes and wrote to Cameron asking for two full days of parliamentary debate on the issue.
However, Cameron said the debate and the vote would take place on a single day. “We’ll make sure that we have a very long and full debate on Wednesday and we’ll take the action necessary to make sure that we have the equivalent number of hours that you’d often have across a two-day debate in one day.
“I want MPs to be able to have full consideration to make speeches, to make points, to ask me questions, to examine the government’s case, as we did for two-and-a-half hours in the House of Commons last week.”
By Michael Sercan Daventry
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