As it happenedended1523914157

House of Commons Syria debate - as it happened: Jeremy Corbyn secures emergency debate on UK military action

PM denies following Donald Trump's lead by launching air strikes

Syria air strikes: How events unfolded

Theresa May has faced MPs to defend her decision to launch air strikes against the Syrian government, but ducked calls to give parliament a retrospective vote on the matter.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the prime minister dismissed suggestions the government had followed the “whims” of Donald Trump and insisted she had taken the decision to launch strikes because it was in the UK's national interest.

But she faced criticism from MPs, including some on her own benches, for not seeking a vote of parliament before launching the strikes.

Instead, the Commons is likely to vote on the issue on Tuesday after Jeremy Corbyn was granted permission for a debate on intervention in Syria.

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Good morning, and welcome to our live coverage of the aftermath of joint military strikes by western powers in Syria.

Theresa May is to face MPs later today, and will try to make the case further for having ordered the attack on what the US, UK and France described as chemical weapons facilities on Saturday morning.

Jon Sharman16 April 2018 07:39

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt said this morning that she supported governments being able to send in the UK's armed forces without parliament's approval, because the intelligence used to make those decisions is too sensitive to be shared with every MP.

Allowing a vote in parliament, therefore, would be "quite wrong", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

She said: "What I would say to those that are calling for Parliament to be able to decide these things and not the government, is that we - and I very much understand the shadow of Chilcot that forms the backdrop to this - to take a decision on whether something is legally justified and whether what we're actually intending on doing in terms of targets is appropriate, you would need to know information that could not be shared with every MP.

"Outsourcing that decision to people who do not have the full picture is, I think, quite wrong.

"I support governments being able to take those decisions. Parliament should hold governments to account for that decision, and of course MPs, they've always been able to raise their views with the prime minister and other members of the government."

Reminded that in 2011 the then-foreign secretary, William Hague, had committed the government to allowing parliament a vote on military action, Ms Mordaunt added: "To take a decision of this magnitude, to decide what the course of action you are proposing is actually going to deter and degrade, is actually going to have an effect on someone being able to use chemical weapons, and to decide whether something is legally justified or not, you can only do that with a level of intelligence that is not available to members of parliament."

Jon Sharman16 April 2018 07:43

Ms Mordaunt said she could not confirm whether a vote would take place in the Commons later today on the Syria issue.

Jon Sharman16 April 2018 07:54
Jon Sharman16 April 2018 08:07

Turkey does not stand with any country on the Syrian issue, and its policy in the region is different from that of Iran, Russia and the US, deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag has said.

Speaking to reporters in Qatar Mr Bozdag, the government spokesman, also said Turkey did not hesitate to work together with any country who defended "correct principles" on Syria.

His comments were in response to a reporter's question about an earlier remark from French president Emmanuel Macron, who said Turkey's support of missile strikes against Syria showed it had "separated" from Russia.


Jon Sharman16 April 2018 08:33

Raffaele Trombetta, Italy's ambassador to the UK, has said his country backed joint strikes in Syria because "it was a focused action, but what we made clear and I think that was also confirmed by other leaders, it was not the beginning of an escalation."

Continued military intervention would not be support by Italy, he added on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, saying: "We believe that the use of force is not the solution to the Syrian crisis, it's been seven years going on, hundreds, thousands I should say, of people have died.

"Only a political and diplomatic process could actually start the way towards the end of this conflict."

Jon Sharman16 April 2018 08:41
Jon Sharman16 April 2018 08:50

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the bloc wants to use a major meeting on Syria next week to give impetus to UN peace moves following Western air strikes on the country.

Ms Mogerhini said on Monday there was a "need to give a push to the UN-led process." 

Speaking before she chaired talks among EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, she said that "people are suffering, people are dying, and I think the whole international community has to take responsibility for this".

More than 70 delegations are expected to attend a Syria donor conference in Brussels on 24 and 25 April. 

Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok added: "We should keep on pushing for a solution through the UN Security Council. It's the only way forward."


Jon Sharman16 April 2018 08:52

Boris Johnson has warned the UK must prepare for retaliation by Russia for its role in the air strikes in Syria.

The Foreign Secretary said Moscow had a track record of launching cyber attacks on infrastructure and interfering in the democratic processes of other countries.

His contact with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had gone cold in the wake of the bombings, he said on the Andrew Marr Show.

And this morning, arriving for a summit of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Mr Johnson said of the strikes: "It was the world saying that we have had enough of the use of chemical weapons, the erosion of that taboo that has been in place for 100 years has gone too far under Bashar Assad."

Saturday's military action was "not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have regime change", and "the Syrian war in many ways will go on in its horrible, miserable way", he added.

Jon Sharman16 April 2018 09:14

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour's shadow attorney general, has said there was "no obvious reason" why Theresa May did not go to parliament for approval of her air strikes in Syria.

She said she welcomed "that [today's] debate is going to happen at all but I think it's a little too late".

Speaking to Sky News, she added: "The government concedes that this wasn't a strike in self-defence and it obviously wasn't pursuant to a UN Security Council resolution. Which leaves the government with an embryonic doctrine ... of humanitarian intervention.

"The government is going to have to argue that it had agreement from the international community as a whole of the urgent need for this particular strike, and that there was no practical alternative to this particular strike.

"I find that difficult to understand, in particular when the chemical weapons inspectors were on their way in."

Jon Sharman16 April 2018 09:35

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