David Davis comments on the suggestion that there should be two days debate on Syria airstrikes


As reported in the Hull Daily Mail
MPs weigh up Syria vote

Hull Labour MP Diana Johnson says she has yet to make up her mind over bombing Syria after Jeremy Corbyn announced his party members will be allowed to vote whichever way they want on the issue.

The political world was waiting on tenterhooks yesterday to find out whether the Labour leader would tell MPs they must oppose RAF air strikes on Isis headquarters in the war-torn country. Mr Corbyn came out last week saying he did not believe military action was justified.

But yesterday afternoon he announced a free vote for all his MPs, allowing them to vote with their conscience rather than along party lines. The Labour Party’s stance is to oppose any UK intervention, with bombing already being carried out by US, Russia, France and Turkey.

The decision is likely to be put to a vote tomorrow in the House of Commons, with the prime minister recommending that the RAF join allied forces in bombing Isis targets.

David Cameron said last night: “ISIL poses a very direct threat to the UK – and as we have already seen in Iraq, British air strikes can play a key role in degrading them.

“But they are only part of a comprehensive strategy for Syria.”

Hull North MP Diana Johnson said she was still undecided. She said she had fears over whether the war was legal and also about whether the alleged troops on the ground would be strong enough to overcome the terrorist faction. She also said Britain must be prepared to do more to help refugees affected by the crisis.

The shadow foreign office minister said: “I do not believe bombing can work unless it is accompanied by ground forces to tackle ISIL/Daesh and a group who can take administrative control.

“The prime minister claimed that there were 70,000 moderate Syrian ground troops who could act against ISIL/Daesh. I am very sceptical about this figure.”

On the topic of refugees, she said: “We are taking 20,000 refugees over five years when there are almost 10 million displaced people.

“I am very pleased Hull will take in refugees but we could be doing more.”

Mr Corbyn, who met with his shadow cabinet yesterday afternoon, wrote to the prime minister calling for a two-day debate before any vote takes place.

In 2013, when attacks on Syria were previously debated, MPs had only six minutes in which to make speeches presenting their concerns or to back the move.

David Davis, Tory MP for Haltemprice and Howden, agreed with Mr Corbyn and urged Mr Cameron to oblige.

“This is an eminently sensible idea,” he said. “The decision to go to war is by definition a matter of life and death.

“If the Government is seeking the authority of Parliament to undertake such a policy, it should do so on the basis of the best-informed, and most carefully considered, debate.

“I strongly recommend that the Government accept this proposal and make arrangements accordingly.”