Syria crisis: David Cameron could make Commons plea to provide rebel forces with weapons

Prime Minister says British efforts would be concentrated in the short term on humanitarian aid

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Indy Politics

David Cameron has not ruled out returning to Parliament and asking for backing to arm or provide further support for Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime.

Despite strident opposition from more than 80 of his own backbenchers to Britain upgrading its support to the rebels Mr Cameron’s official spokesman repeatedly failed to rule out a future Commons vote on the issue.

However the Prime Minister made clear he has no plans to go back to the House to seek to overturn his defeat over direct military action in Syria.

“I think Parliament spoke very clearly and it's important to respect the view of Parliament, so I am not planning to return to Parliament to ask again about British military action,” he said.

But asked whether Mr Cameron might support President Obama’s announcement today that his administration had “a broader strategy” to “upgrade the capabilities of the opposition” his spokesman repeated failed to rule out the possibility.

“No decision has been made to do that (arm the rebels),” he said. “That has been the position for a very long time.”

The spokesman added that last week's debate and vote “was very specifically a response to the August 21 chemical weapons attack”.

In the House of Commons the Foreign Secretary William Hague also appeared to keep open the possibility of a further vote on Syria.

Asked by the Conservative MP Julian Lewis whether he could confirm that the House could “rely on the pledge” that Mr Cameron gave that the UK would not be involved in military action in Syria Mr Hague replied: “The House has made its decision, and we respect that decision. As other Ministers have said, including the Defence Secretary yesterday, we are not planning to return to the same vote or the same debate again.”

Mr Cameron said British efforts would be concentrated in the short term on humanitarian aid.

“We are already the second largest aid donor in delivering the humanitarian aid that is so needed, both in Syria and in the neighbouring countries like Jordan and Turkey,” he said.

“We'll go on doing that. We will help lead the world in that effort and make further efforts at the G20 to make sure that vital aid gets through.”

“Britain, as ever, is a world leader in helping those who need help and the people of Syria are right up there at the front of that right now.”

Earlier in the day the Education Secretary Michael Gove his angry response to the Government’s defeat last Thursday allegedly shouting “you’re a disgrace at MPs who had voted against action.

"I did become heated last week, that is absolutely right,” he said.

“At the moment that the government lost the vote on the motion, there were Labour MPs cheering as though it were a sort of football match and they had just won.

“At the same time on the news, we were hearing about an attack on a school in Syria and the death toll there rising - and the incongruity of Labour MPs celebrating as children had been killed by a ruthless dictator, I am afraid got to me and I did feel incredibly emotional. I do feel emotional about this subject.”