Syria air strikes will only make Isis more determined to come to Britain to kill us, says Ken Livingstone

Former Mayor of London warned that bombing Syria would serve as a 'good recruiting sergeant' for Isis

Matt Dathan
Online political reporter
Tuesday 01 December 2015 09:40
Ken Livingstone is backing Jeremy Corbyn
Ken Livingstone is backing Jeremy Corbyn

Extending British air strikes into Syria would only make Isis more determined to “come here and kill us,” Ken Livingstone has said.

Ahead the crunch vote in Parliament tomorrow on whether Britain should join military action against Isis in Syria, the former Mayor of London warned that it would make the UK more at-risk of a terrorist threat.

He said it would also serve as a “good recruiting sergeant” for the Islamic terrorists.

"No-one is going to get safer. We are going to get more at-risk,” Mr Livingstone told the Today programme.

"I should imagine the security services are warning the Prime Minister that we are already at risk and that this bombing exercise will almost certainly heighten that risk.

"They will be more determined to come here and kill us."

MPs will vote on extending the RAF strikes to Syria in Parliament on Wednesday, with Prime Minister's Questions cancelled to make enough time for the debate.

David Cameron was given a significant boost in his bid to win parliamentary approval after Jeremy Corbyn failed to convince his Shadow Cabinet to oppose the air strikes.

Labour MPs will now be given a free vote, with Mr Corbyn opposing military action but his Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn voting in favour.

Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Benn praised Mr Corbyn for backing down and granting Labour MPs a free vote and also suggested his stance could change, depending on the motion put forward to MPs on Wednesday.

"People of principle can reach different decisions about how to deal with a threat... people of conscience have reached different views about what the right thing to do is and those views are sincerely held and we should respect them and we have to listen to many voices, our constituents our party members, our colleagues in the House of Commons and of course the discussions that we have had in the Shadow Cabinet.

"I think it is to the great credit of Jeremy as a leader that he has recognised that there is a difference of view on this most important of questions. And we have decided - he has decided - that we are going to have a free vote.

"I have reached the conclusion, obviously yet to see the Government's motion, but I have reached the conclusion that we need to take this action because there is a clear and present threat from Isil/Daesh."

Mr Livingstone, who was Mayor of London when 52 people were killed in the 7/7 bombings in the capital, said Isis would only be defeated by troops on the ground.

But he said Britain, the United States and France should send troops into Syria because of their recent history in the Middle East.

Instead they should work towards getting a UN Coalition of troops to go into Syria.

“Every military person I’ve heard on radio and TV says bombing doesn’t actually win you a war,” he said.

“We need to have troops on the ground; Britain and America and France are so discredited in the Middle East after Iraq and Afghanistan [that] we need that UN coalition to provide that coalition to actually provide those troops.

“Countries like China, Nigeria, Brazil as well as Russia so it’s not just seen as the West protecting its own oil interests.”

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