David Cameron refuses to apologise for calling anti-bombing MPs 'terrorist sympathisers'

The Prime Minister was asked several times to withdraw the comments

Jon Stone
Wednesday 02 December 2015 13:15 GMT
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David Cameron refuses to apologise

David Cameron has refused to apologise after branding MPs who oppose air strikes in Syria “terrorist sympathisers”.

The Prime Minister faced repeated interventions from MPs during a House of Commons debate on military action demanding that he retract the attack.

Mr Cameron reportedly last night told rebel Conservative MPs that they might be set to “walk through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers”.

But today he did not acknowledge requests in parlaiment to withdraw the comments, even from pro-intervention MPs.

“Will he apologise for the remarks he made last night against honourable and right honourable friends on this side of the House?” Labour MP Caroline Flint asked.

Mr Cameron replied “I respect people who disagree. I respect the fact that governments of all colours are have had to fight terrorism and that this is a debate about how to fight terrorism, not whether to fight terrorism” but would not retract the comments.

Other interventions came from MPs including pro-intervention Labour MP John Woodcock, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, and former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

Mr Cameron was asked to withdraw the comments at least seven times in the first half an hour of the debate, which is set to last well into the evening.

The rally rose to over a dozen times within the first whole hour of the debate, with Labour leader Mr Corbyn also giving him an opportunity to retract the claim.

The Government is expected to win the vote to extend air strikes to Syria with the help of pro-intervention Labour MPs.

The UK is currently bombing Isis in Iraq; US, French and Russian plans are currently conducting air strikes against militants in Syria.

Labour is split on whether to extend strikes from Iraq to Syria, with shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn expected to speak in favour and leader Jeremy Corbyn against.

Labour MPs themselves will get a free vote on the issue but have come under pressure from party members and activists, who are overwhelmingly against more bombing.

Mr Corbyn and his deputy leader Tom Watson had previously asked for a two day debate on Syria but Mr Cameron said the Government would only grant a single day's discussion.

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