192018Apr

Weekly column 19.04.18

In the last few days I have received correspondence from constituents regarding the recent actions taken in Syria. I want to make it clear that I fully support the Prime Minister’s decision to join French and American forces to take action to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons and deter their use. I think it is disgraceful that some have chosen to label this as following orders from the USA – it is demeaning to our country and our troops.

On April 7, up to 75 people, including many young children, were murdered, with 500 further casualties in a despicable attack in Douma. We cannot allow this barbarism to continue. All indications point to a chemical weapons attack and I, like many others, have been appalled by the graphic photos of civilians lying dead on the ground, having had no means of escape.

Some of the intelligence cannot be made public for security and defence reasons but even open source accounts point to a barrel bomb being used to deliver these chemicals and that a regime helicopter was observed above Douma on April 7.

Just last week Russia vetoed a draft resolution at the UN which would have established an independent investigation into this latest attack, suggesting instead that the attack was ‘staged’ by Britain. This demonstrates that there is no further diplomatic channel available, given these grotesque and absurd claims.

Many constituents have asked me why the Prime Minister did not go to Parliament before launching these strikes. The power to deploy armed forces is a prerogative power exercised on the Sovereign’s behalf by Ministers so a Prime Minister does not need to seek Parliamentary approval.

If time and circumstances allow, then I believe Parliament should debate before action is taken, but this is not always possible like in this case, where action needed to be quick and covert. Upon Parliament’s return from recess, the Prime Minister made a statement and spent three hours 15 minutes answering MPs’ questions. Two emergency debates have been held on the issue to give MPs maximum opportunity to have their voices heard.

Having listened to the Prime Minister, I do believe that her swift response was proportionate and necessary to prevent the brutal use of such weapons again. The strikes were not about regime change and are not about intervening in civil war. It was a limited and effective strike with clear boundaries. Targeted was a chemical weapons facility, a key chemical weapons research centre and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks.

This will significantly degrade the Syrian regime’s ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons. Debating this action beforehand would have given time on the ground to move items and rendered it null and void.

In this instance our actions were lawful, justified and proportionate and I do believe that evil happens when good men do nothing.