Last month saw the horrific murders of many people in the streets of Paris, and I know our thoughts have been with their friends and families since those awful events on Friday 13th. ISIL are, as the Prime Minister says, an evil death cult who, as these events show, are a real risk to us in the United Kingdom.
Tonight there will be a vote in the House of Commons on authorising air strikes against ISIL in Syria. Deciding to use military force is not a decision any MP takes lightly, and I have been thinking very carefully about my decision over the past week. I also understand this is an issue on which reasonable people can disagree, and I fully respect the views of people on both sides of the debate.
The fact that we are facing a dangerous terrorist group, who control large areas of territory and pose a direct threat to us in the United Kingdom, weighs very heavily on my mind.
Moreover, this vote is very different from the vote two years ago when we had to consider the possible ramifications of action in a civil war. This vote is against terrorist murders who are based in areas with no recognised government we can co-operate with. Any proposed action would be legal, having the backing of the UN Security Council, after UN Security Council Resolution 2249 was passed unanimously.
Therefore, I believe we should join the international community by taking all necessary steps to destroy ISIL, to stop the spread of their ideology and to protect our citizens, and so I will be voting in favour of the motion tonight. Joining the airstrikes will show our commitment to supporting our allies when they request our assistance. These strikes will expand upon what we are already doing in Iraq and strike at ISIL’s infrastructure and most importantly protect civilians against ISIL attacks.
However, military action is only one part of our fight against ISIL. We will ensure that there is a full commitment to supporting and rebuilding the areas currently controlled by ISIL, more action on curtailing their funding, and to continue our humanitarian support for refugees in the Middle East. Tonight’s resolution in the House of Commons directly covers these issues, noting that “military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria”.
To me this shows we are learning the lessons from the past, particularly our interventions in Iraq and Libya. This is important, as whilst we must learn from and rectify our errors, we cannot let these mistakes force us into inaction when British civilians are at risk. We must also learn from failures to respond, such as in Rwanda and Bosnia, and the consequences of inaction.
I would like to thank all constituents who have been in touch with me on this issue. I have thought very seriously about this vote, and I hope that even if you do not agree with my decision, you will understand my reasons. You can find below the full text of the motion for your information. You can also read the Prime Minister’s statement to the House of Commons last week by clicking here.
ISIL in Syria (Unietd Nations Security Council Resolution 2249)
That this house notes that ISIL poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom;
welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 2249 which determines that ISIL constitutes an ‘unprecedented threat to international peace and security’ and calls on states to take ‘all necessary measures’ to prevent terrorist acts by ISIL and to ‘eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria’;
further notes the clear legal basis to defend the UK and our allies in accordance with the UN Charter;
notes that military action against ISIL is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria;
welcomes the renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement;
welcomes the Government’s continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees; underlines the importance of planning for post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria;
welcomes the Government’s continued determination to cut ISIL’s sources of finance, fighters, and weapons; notes the requests from France, the US and regional allies for UK military assistance;
acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian causalities; using the UK’s particular capabilities;
notes the Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations;
welcomes the Government’s commitment to provide quarterly progress reports to the House;
and accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria;
and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.