Diane Abbott says it would be 'outrageous' for Theresa May to deny MPs vote on Syria military action

Shadow Home Secretary also repeats claim that military action could 'end up with the RAF serving as the air arm of the jihadi extremist rebels in Syria'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Friday 13 April 2018 09:45 BST
Diane Abbott dodges question of whether Labour would ever back military action in Syria

Diane Abbott has said it would “outrageous” for Theresa May to pursue military action in Syria without consulting Parliament and give MPs a vote.

The shadow home secretary also repeated a claim from Julian Lewis, the chairman of the defence select committee, that military action in the war-ravaged region could “end up with the RAF serving as the air arm of the jihadi extremist rebels in Syria”.

Ms Abbott — one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies — was also pressed repeatedly on whether there would be any circumstances in which Labour would back military action in Syria.

“What we are interested in is an end to the violence and we don’t believe that further bombing in this situation, will bring an end to the violence,” she told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.

Her comments come after the Prime Minister’s Cabinet agreed to “take action” to deter the use of chemical weapons in Syria, ahead of an expected military strikes on regime targets.But there was no mention from Downing Street on whether Ms May would consult MPs on any further action and she has repeatedly sidestepped the question in recent days.

Ms Abbott said: “It would be outrageous for the Government not to bring military action in Syria to Parliament, for Parliament to have a vote. And the Tories used to think like that. The reason they are not doing it is they are frightened they will lose the vote.”

During the interview, however, Ms Abbott at times struggled to explain Labour’s position on the demand for an independent UN-led inquiry into the suspected chemical weapons attack.

When it was pointed out that Russia has on multiple occasions vetoed such measures, Ms Abbott added: “There has to be a political negotiation. We would press on trying to bring people to the table. We believe more bombing is not the answer to the crisis in Syria.

Pressed on whether there would be any circumstances in which Labour would support military action, Ms Abbott replied: “There was a Second World War.

Specifically on Syria, she said: “There is no evidence to show that further bombing in Syria will make the region more stable.“

Asked three times if Russia or the United States posed the greatest threat to world peace, Ms Abbott eventually said: “It’s clear that at this point Russia, its role in Syria, what we believe, beyond reasonable doubt, is its role in the poison gas attacks in Salisbury, is a greater threat to world peace than the United States.“

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