Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

03 DEC 2015

MP backs coalition extension of air strikes into Syria

Steve Brine voted in favour of the proposal to widen the Royal Air Forces' involvement in Syria on Wednesday 2nd December, following a ten hour debate and hundreds of submissions from constituents.

The proposal was passed after a lively day in the House, which saw some excellent contributions from members on all sides of the debate.

Steve said: "As Government and Opposition front bench speakers stressed, we should be clear that this vote was not about a new war, but an extension of the decision taken by Parliament 15 months ago, when we were facing a threat from Daesh in Iraq, to authorise airstrikes in there at the request of the Iraqi Government. On that occasion, the House voted by 524 to 43 in favour of action."

At the start of Wednesday's debate, which followed a full day's debate on Monday of this week and a lengthy statement from the Prime Minister last Thursday, Mr Cameron made clear that was not pretending the challenge posed by Daesh had any simple answersand was clear this was purely one part of a wider strategy.

Steve continued: "One of the most misleading and infuriating things I have heard in recent days has been the accusation there this is somehow a rush to war with the belief it's all, and only, about what we do from the skies above Syria. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"I fully agree that we must pursue a comprehensive strategy that includes political, diplomatic and humanitarian action. The long-term solution in Syria, as in Iraq, must ultimately be a Government that represents all of its people and one that can work with us to defeat the shameful death-cult that is Daesh."

Steve was able to ask the Prime Minister a key question regarding the role of Russia in any transitional Government in Syria as it moves away from the rule of President Assad. He pressed him over what conversations he - and the United States - had had with President Putin and was pleased to hear that he has had a number of conversations with Mr Putin, most recently at the G20 summit in Antalya, and that President Obama had a meeting with him at the climate change conference in Paris.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that there had been an enormous gap between Britain, America, France and, indeed, Saudi Arabia on the one hand and Russia on the other hand previously, but that the gap has narrowed over moving on from Assad, with the thinking that it will narrow further as the vital talks in Vienna get under way.

Throughout the debate, the key topics which came up included the specifics of the military plan and who would deliver it, the overall strategy, the question of whether air strikes would make a difference, and if the strikes would increase or decrease the security threat here in the UK.

Steve said: "We all agree that airstrikes alone will not finish Daesh, but they will deliver immediate benefit as they are in Iraq. They will reduce Daesh's external attack planning capability, making Britain safer, and they will, over time, degrade the organisation and force a change in its behaviour.

"It was made very clear to the House that while in 2014, there were 15 ISIL external attack plans, in 2015 so far, there have been 150. This is a growing problem, and something that has been brought to us. It is not going away and needs to be tackled. According to the briefings I have had, Britain is already (sadly) in the top-tier of Daesh targets.

"From my perspective, we need to remember that this is not 2003, and for the record I very firmly believe that the actions of Tony Blair poisoned the well for future Prime Minister's in taking action to keep us safe at home and abroad. We cannot use past mistakes as an excuse for indifference or inaction, and I can confirm that if this strategy had just been about bombing Syria with no wider strategy then I would not have supported it."

The Government has confirmed there will be an update to the House of Commons before Christmas on progress now that Britain is an active part of the wider coalition effort in Iraq and Syria.

A total of 104 Members were able to speak in the debate plus many more via interventions on front-bench speakers. The final result of the vote was 397 in favour, with 223 against, a strong majority of 174 providing a clear mandate for the extension of British involvement in coalition air strikes.


More information ...

READ Steve Brine's exchange with the Prime Minister

READ the whole debate back on Hansard

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