Even before last week’s dreadful chemical gas attack, the estimated death toll in Syria was nearing 100,000 people. A UN Commission has found evidence of grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity including massacres, torture, summary executions and a systematic policy of rape and sexual violence by the regime's forces and its militia. And now the evidence for the regime's use of chemical weapons is mounting and persuasive. This is abhorrent.

The longer the violence continues the greater the risk of radicalisation and regional conflict that will inevitably have its impact on the rest of the world, in addition to the desperate humanitarian situation and tragic loss of life.

Today, the House of Commons are debating what to do about the recent atrocity in Syria. The Government has consistently stated that it has three objectives in Syria: to promote a political solution that ends the conflict; to help save lives by doubling humanitarian aid and providing non-lethal support to the opposition; and to protect the national security of the United Kingdom from extremism and terrorism.

Since the horrific attack last week I have had lots of representations from constituents who are both for and against intervention. I am very grateful to everyone who has got in touch to share their strong views and have found these very useful in shaping my opinion. But, I am writing this the day before the vote in the House of Commons and at present I have not made my mind up.

One of the arguments in favour of some kind of limited military intervention is that it would send a message to the Assad regime that it has to negotiate seriously, and that all options remain on the table if it refuses to.

I do understand the concerns that have been raised about elements of the Syrian opposition, and about the risks of military intervention, however limited. But there are millions of Syrians who want a peaceful and democratic future. The dilemma is what role, if any, the UK should play in helping them achieve that. Of course, any action in response would have to be legal, proportionate and specifically to deter future use of chemical weapons. And we must certainly be sure that intervention does not make a very bad situation even worse before we choose to escalate the conflict through our involvement, whatever form that involvement may take.


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