Syria crisis: Nick Clegg rules out second Commons vote on military action as Boris Johnson increases pressure on Cameron
The Deputy Prime Minister said 'we're not going to keep asking the same question of Parliament again and again'
Monday 02 September 2013
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has waded into the row over the Commons vote on military action in Syria saying he couldn't "foresee any circumstances" where the matter would return to parliament.
Mr Clegg insisted the government would not "go back" to the House of Commons on the issue.
"We're not going to keep asking the same question of Parliament again and again," he said.
"We live in a democracy, the executive cannot act in a way which clearly is not welcome to Parliament or the British people, so we're not proposing to do so."
He added: "I can't foresee any circumstances that we would go back to Parliament on the same question, on the same issue."
Mr Clegg also today accused Labour of using the House of Commons vote "as an opportunity to score party political points".
The Prime Minister's official spokesman told a daily Westminster media briefing: "Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament."
Mr Clegg's intervention followed an article this morning by London Mayor Boris Johnson in which he stated that MPs could be asked to vote again on military action in Syria if further evidence emerges that civilians were targeted by chemical weapons.
Mr Johnson joined calls for a second vote after Washington announced that they had seen blood and hair samples proving President Bashar al Assad used sarin gas to attack civilians.
Boris Johnson is the most high-profile figure to suggest that parliament could vote again on the issue following an embarrassing Commons defeat for the Prime Minister last week.
The London mayor suggested that British forces could still be deployed to Syria following the atrocity on the outskirts of Damascus and insisted there was "no reason" why a renewed bid for parliamentary support could not still be made.
Mr Johnson's comments are likely to further increase pressure on David Cameron to take the vote to parliament once again, despite Chancellor George Osborne categorically ruling out a rethink or new vote on Syria action over the weekend.
George Osborne insisted yesterday that "Parliament has spoken" and suggested that even in the face of fresh chemical weapons attacks or new evidence, Britain will not intervene.
Foreign Secretary William Hague also said it was not "realistic" to repeatedly return to the Commons with the same question.
Mr Osborne told BBC 1's Andrew Marr show: "I think Parliament has spoken. I think the Labour Party will always play this opportunistically.
"The Conservative MPs, and there were Liberal Democrats, who couldn't support us, they have a deep scepticism about military involvement and I don't think another UN report, or whatever, would make the difference.
"Of course I wanted us to be part of a potential military response. Now that is just not going to be open to us now because the House of Commons has spoken."
Boris Johnson, who is often talked of as a potential successor to David Cameron, joined Lord Howard, a former Conservative leader, former foreign secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and former Liberal Democrat leader, Lord Ashdown, in calling for a second vote.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the Mayor of London said the use of gas for mass murder could not be allowed to go unpunished.
"If there is new and better evidence that inculpates Assad, I see no reason why the Government should not lay a new motion before Parliament, inviting British participation - and then it is Ed Miliband, not David Cameron, who will face embarrassment," he wrote.
"The Labour leader has been capering around pretending to have stopped an attack on Syria - when his real position has been more weaselly.
"If you add the Tories and Blairites together, there is a natural majority for a calibrated and limited response to a grotesque war crime."
Confusion over the government's position was compounded earlier when Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt appeared to indicate that a second vote may not be entirely off the table, telling ITV's Daybreak that he would "never say never".
"You can never say never to anything. If circumstances are different, who knows?" he said.
"But the point is that Parliament had the opportunity to look at it last week, and what the UK is now committed to is working diplomatically with partners on all the other things we need to do... Ultimately what will benefit the Syrian people is getting that negotiated settlement."
Video: Nick Clegg - No second vote on Syria
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