MPs to hold second emergency debate on Syria

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May will again clash on the merits of taking military action in Syria

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May will again clash on the merits of taking military action in Syria

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

MPs are to stage a second emergency debate in the space of 24 hours over Britain's role in missile strikes of Syria's chemical warfare facilities.

Commons Speaker John Bercow has granted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a debate to consider the rights of Parliament to debate and approve military action by British forces overseas. The session is expected to begin on Tuesday afternoon.

It follows a marathon three-hour Commons statement by Theresa May on Monday which was then followed by another three-hour debate on a backbench motion.

The "take note" motion, saying the House had considered the situation in Syria and the Government's approach passed comfortably by 314 to 36 in a largely symbolic vote, with Labour abstaining.

In the course of her appearance at the Despatch Box, the Prime Minister largely succeeded in placating Conservative critics - despite some concerns among some backbenchers that there was no Commons vote.

She even won support from a series of Labour MPs who backed her decision to join the US and France in mounting strikes after 75 people were thought to have died in a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma.

Mr Corbyn - who repeated his assertion that the action was "legally questionable" - faced jeers from Tory MPs after telling Mrs May she was "accountable to this Parliament, not to the whims of the US president".

The Prime Minister, however, defended her decision not to recall Parliament, saying speed had been "essential", suggesting the "security" of the operation could have otherwise been compromised.

She also ratcheted up the diplomatic war of words with Russia - the Syrian regime's principle backer - accusing Moscow of preventing inspectors for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reaching Douma.

Russian officials at OPCW headquarters in The Hague later said arrangements were being made for the inspectors to travel to the site on Wednesday.

However there are fears in Western capitals that - more than a week on - much of the evidence of what happened on April 7 will no longer be there.