Extra planes are expected to be sent to Cyprus as Britain prepares to go to war with Isis in Syria.
The Defence Secretary will confirm the use of a second Airseeker Rivet Joint spy plane later today, ahead of MPs’ vote on whether to extend British military intervention tomorrow.
The RAF’s fleet of aircraft stationed in Cyprus will double if David Cameron’s proposals are approved, and the Daily Mail reports that two extra Tornado fighter jets and six Typhoons equipped with laser-guided missiles will make up the numbers.
Eight Tornados are already stationed at RAF Akrotiri, where they have been launching from for Operation Shader – the UK’s bombing mission against Isis in Iraq that started in September 2014.
The Ministry of Defence has not confirmed reports that strikes against the terror group in Syria could start “within hours” of an anticipated vote of approval in the Commons tomorrow.
Returning to Downing Street after attending the opening of international climate change talks in Paris yesterday, the Prime Minister said there was “growing support” across Parliament to join a growing international coalition in Syria.
“We will be acting with our allies, we will be careful and responsible as we do so, but in my view it’s the right thing to do this to keep our country safe,” he said.
Mr Cameron has urged MPs to support the military action they rejected two years ago following Francois Hollande’s appeal for increased efforts to combat Isis following the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.
The French President has travelled from Washington to Moscow seeking greater co-operation between the US and Russia in a diplomatic push that was almost derailed by the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey, a Nato member.
His wish for the UK to join the expanded coalition in Syria looks set to be granted after Jeremy Corbyn was forced to give Labour MPs a free vote in the face of a threatened revolt during a stormy meeting of the shadow cabinet.
Diane Abbott, the shadow International Development Secretary, had claimed that a free vote would hand victory to Mr Cameron “on a plate”.
The Leader of the Opposition called for a two-day Commons debate, which would have meant delaying the vote until next week, but the move was rejected by the Prime Minister.
Labour sources suggested that 43 per cent of Labour MPs - almost 100 out of the party's tally of 231 - supported air strikes in Syria, although it was unclear how many will vote with the Government.
What will happen on the day of the vote:
- On Wednesday morning, the Prime Minister will formally seek the backing of his senior ministers at a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street.
- The Government will then head to Parliament for the debate on air strikes in Syria to begin at 11.30am.
- It means that Prime Minister’s Question time, usually held at midday, is expected to be cancelled to allow the issue to be discussed for up to 10 hours.
- David Cameron will speak in favour of extending RAF missions, while Labour will be split, with leader Jeremy Corbyn opposing and his shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn supporting.
- The vote is scheduled to take place at 10pm, when it is expected that Tories opposing intervention will not outweigh dozens of Labour MPs who could use their free vote to support the Government.
Additional reporting by PA
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