Yesterday I was in the House of Commons chamber for over 10 hours listening to the debate on extending airstrikes, which are already taking place against Daesh in Iraq, to their safe haven in Syria.
In the evening I joined 397 Parliamentary colleagues including 66 Labour MPs, Lib Dem MPs, DUP MPs and the one UKIP MP in supporting the motion to extend airstrikes. It is a complex issue and it was not a decision I took lightly having voted against bombing Syria in 2013. But this is different.
- Daesh are a clear and present danger to the UK. We are already a top target for them. 7 terrorist plots have been foiled and 30 UK citizens were slaughtered on the beaches of Tunisia. We are tackling radicalisation at home but people here are being inspired by those in Daesh’s safe haven in Syria. So doing nothing will not make us safer – they hate us not for what we do but for who we are.
- Our Allies have asked for our help. Imagine the Paris attacks had happened here and our friends and allies were prevaricating in whether to come to come to our aid in tackling terrorism. I am Chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Kurdistan having served there whilst in the RAF and their UK representative Karwan Tahir says airstrikes against Daesh in Syria will help the Peshmerga’s fight against this evil cult.
- We now have a clear and unambiguous UN Security Council resolution 2249, paragraph 5 of which specifically calls on member states “to take all necessary measures…to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL… and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria”.
- Hilary Benn clearly described what is being done in the name of the evil ideology of Daesh “In June, four gay men were thrown off the fifth storey of a building in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. In August, the 82-year-old guardian of the antiquities of Palmyra, Professor Khaled al-Asaad, was beheaded, and his headless body was hung from a traffic light. In recent weeks, mass graves in Sinjar have been discovered, one said to contain the bodies of older Yazidi women murdered by Daesh because they were judged too old to be sold for sex. Daesh has killed 30 British tourists in Tunisia; 224 Russian holidaymakers on a plane; 178 people in suicide bombings in Beirut, Ankara and Suruç; 130 people in Paris, including those young people in the Bataclan, whom Daesh, in trying to justify its bloody slaughter, called apostates engaged in prostitution and vice. If it had happened here they could have been our children.”
- I accept that airstrikes on their own will not be the solution. As the motion we voted for says it is only one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria. There is a renewed impetus behind the Vienna talks on a ceasefire and political settlement. I welcome the Government’s continuing commitment to providing humanitarian support to Syrian refugees and the importance of planning post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction in Syria.
I take my responsibility as your representative extremely seriously. Having listened to all the speeches and arguments, having attending briefings and having listened to constituents, I exercised my judgement in good faith.