The Government must be straight with the public about Syria airstrikes, says Jeremy Corbyn

Parliament rejected the bombings in a vote in 2013

Jon Stone
Friday 17 July 2015 13:09 BST

The Government needs to “be straight” with the public about UK involvement in airstrikes on Syria, a Labour leadership contender has said.

Jeremy Corbyn argued that the Ministry of Defence has no authority to deploy British pilots via allied militaries because Parliament had previously vetoed British involvement in the country.

This morning it was revealed that British pilots embedded with other nations’ forces were conducting air strikes on Syria despite MPs voting against UK action in the country in 2013.

“I think the Government needs to be straight with us here. In 2013 quite specifically voted against British military involvement in Syria and then in 2014 voted for military involvement in Iraq,” Mr Corbyn told Sky News.

Smoke rises following an air strike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, last October (Getty)
Smoke rises following an air strike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, last October (Getty) (Getty Images)

“It absolutely has no authority for British forces to be involved in Syria. The excuse that these individual pilots are embedded with other airforces seems to me a very difficult and dodgy argument

“I would have thought the Prime Minister comes to Parliament, makes a clear statement on it, and then Parliament can then make a decision because this has the danger of developing into British direct military involvement by air forces and then by ground forces.”

The Liberal Democrats’ new leader Tim Farron this morning warned that the bombing raids could be playing into the hands of the militant group ISIS.

Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at the charity Reprieve, which obtained the revalations through a freedom of information request, said the debate about UK action in the Middle East needed to be more "open and honest".

"It is alarming that Parliament and the public have been kept in the dark about this for so long," she said.

Mr Corbyn suggested that encouraging regional powers to cut off Isis supply lies would be a better approach to combating the militant group than air bombing.

"I think we have to look at the very large picture of the whole region, try and isolate Isil financially and military and also involve the other countries in the region. I think the agreement with Iran is a very interesting one that might help to bring about that further isolation," he said.

British warplanes are already openly taking part in airstrikes in Iraq. Bombers conduct sorties from bases in Cyprus.

Mr Corbyn is one of four contenders for the Labour leadership. The other three are Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall, and Yvette Cooper.

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