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I understand the concerns of my constituents over any possible UK military involvement in the Syrian Civil War.

There are real risks associated with any Western intervention. Although the humanitarian urge to do something about the appalling excesses of the Assad regime is a noble one, this may well be a situation where the consequences of action are worse than the consequences of inaction.

I will be attending the Commons debate today and I am pleased that the government has tabled a motion that gives the Commons a separate and later opportunity to vote on military action after the proper UN process has been given time to work.

As a result, I now expect to support tonight’s motion.

However, only if I was convinced that any action by us would genuinely improve the lives or prospects of the Syrian people, without further destabilising the wider region, and strongly deter any future use of chemical weapons could I support any later motion authorising specific intervention.

The text of the motion the Commons will vote on today is below.


The Prime Minister
The Deputy Prime Minister
Secretary William Hague
Secretary Theresa May
Secretary Philip Hammond
Mr Dominic Greive

That this House:

Deplores the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 by the Assad regime, which caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries of Syrian civilians; Recalls the importance of upholding the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons under international law;

Agrees that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community and that this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on saving lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria’s chemical weapons;

Notes the failure of the United Nations Security Council over the last two years to take united action in response to the Syrian crisis; Notes that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime under customary law and a crime against humanity, and that the principle of humanitarian intervention provides a sound legal basis for taking action;

Notes the wide international support for such a response, including the statement from the United Nations Security Council, to “overcome internal disagreements and take action against those who committed this crime, for which the Syrian regime is
responsible”; Believes, in spite of the difficulties at the United Nations, that a United Nations process must be followed as far as possible to ensure the maximum legitimacy for any such action;

Therefore welcomes the work of the United Nations investigating team currently in Damascus, and, whilst noting that the team’s mandate is to confirm whether chemical weapons were used and not to apportion blame, agrees that the United Nations Secretary General should ensure a briefing to the United Nations Security Council immediately upon the completion of the team’s initial mission;

Believes that the United Nations Security Council must have the opportunity immediately to consider that briefing and that every effort should be made to secure a Security Council Resolution backing military action before any such action is taken, and notes that before any direct British involvement in such action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place; and

Notes that this Resolution relates solely to efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering by deterring use of chemical weapons and does not sanction any action in Syria with wider objectives.


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