Tue, Apr 17, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Airstrikes were in UK’s interest: May

RIGHT THING TO DO:The prime minister was to tell parliament that the attack on Syria was to uphold and defend the global consensus against the use of chemical weapons

The Guardian

British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday was to tell critics of military action in Syria that the decision to launch airstrikes was aimed at preventing human suffering and was in Britain’s national interest, as she faced questions by MPs about the attacks for the first time.

With the government braced for highly charged exchanges in the House of Commons as lawmakers return from their Easter recess, May was to emphasize the international support for the bombing raids.

“Let me be absolutely clear: We have acted because it is in our national interest to do so. It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used,” she was to say.

“We have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do. And we are not alone. There is broad-based international support for the action we have taken,” she was to say, pointing out that she has secured the support of a string of world leaders.

May was to give a statement before parliament yesterday afternoon, after refusing to recall parliament last week to seek lawmakers’ approval before action was taken.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had described the attack on Syria as “both wrong and misconceived.”

In an article for the Guardian, Corbyn said that the attack by the West was “either purely symbolic — a demolition of empty buildings, already shown to be entirely ineffective as a deterrent. Or it was the precursor to wider military action.

That would risk a reckless escalation of the war and death toll, and the danger of direct confrontation between the US and Russia. Neither possibility offers an end to the war and suffering, or any prospect of saving lives — rather the opposite.”

Corbyn also took aim at the foreign secretary, saying: “Boris Johnson’s blithe acceptance that the conflict will now continue on its current course and that peace negotiations would be an ‘extra’ is an unconscionable abdication of responsibility and morality.”

In further remarks that could prove controversial after the Salisbury poisoning, Corbyn also called for “a shift from the rhetoric of endless confrontation with Russia,” which he said could “help lower the temperature, and make a UN consensus for multilateral action to end Syria’s agony more likely.”

The government also announced that it would urge Speaker John Bercow to grant an emergency debate afterwards, to allow more time to be set aside for lawmakers to express their views.

The debate would be aimed at pre-empting attempts by Labour and the Scottish National party to force a vote on the decision to trigger action — though Conservative lawmakers have been issued a three-line whip today in case opposition parties succeed.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable accused the prime minister of failing to consult parliament because she feared losing a vote. “Theresa May had a chance to try and persuade parliament, but bottled out of it through weakness,” he said.

May was to pledge a further diplomatic push to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime back to the negotiating table in Geneva and ensure chemical weapons attacks are fully investigated.

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