Iraq crisis: Voters agree IS is deadly threat to Britain's streets

Poll shows 40 per cent back use of military force in cases of humanitarian emergency; Tories now two points behind Labour
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The Independent Online

Most voters agree with David Cameron that if Islamic State (IS) continues its advance into Iraq, it poses a direct and deadly threat to security on British streets, according to a poll conducted for The Independent on Sunday.

The ComRes poll found that 55 per cent agree with the Prime Minister about the nature of the threat posed by the jihadist organisation, while 40 per cent of those asked back British intervention abroad with military force in cases of humanitarian emergency.

However, only 26 per cent of voters think the emergence of IS shows that Britain withdrew from Iraq prematurely, while an identical proportion think the situation in Iraq means that Britain should consider delaying the current plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Some 51 per cent of people disagree with Mr Cameron that it is possible for him to take charge of the international crises via his BlackBerry, suggesting the PM should return home from his holiday in Cornwall at the earliest opportunity.

The poll puts the Conservative Party just two points behind Labour when it comes to voting intentions for the next election, with Ed Miliband's party's lead squeezed from three points last month. The Tories are viewed more favourably than Labour for the first time.

The poll findings came as Downing Street yesterday announced more measures to help defeat IS, including supplying night-vision technology, body armour and other non-lethal equipment to Kurdish forces in the next few days.


Mr Cameron has appointed a special representative to the region to oversee Britain's efforts to help combat IS. Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayall, the Government's senior defence adviser for the Middle East, will take on the role of Government Security Envoy to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. General Mayall will work with Kurdish leaders to combat the terror organisation and with Iraq's leaders to establish a unity government.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "General Mayall's extensive experience of the region means that he will be able to draw on a broad range of existing relationships across Iraq, the region, and with close allies.

The Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, warned that IS would launch attacks on British soil unless they were stopped. "IS are turning a swathe of Iraq and Syria into a terrorist state as a base for launching attacks on the West. Unless they are stopped, sooner or later they will seek to strike us on British soil. We should be in no doubt that we have a vital national interest in tackling the threat."

Meanwhile, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Representative for Iraq, called on the international community to take action to prevent a "possible massacre" of the citizens of Amerli, a town in northern Iraq besieged by IS forces.

He said he was seriously alarmed by reports that residents had no food or water as a two-month siege continued. "Iraq's allies and the international community should work with the authorities to prevent a human rights tragedy," he added.