British Prime Minister David Cameron has raised the prospect of Britain joining America in launching air strikes against ISIS, saying he could even go ahead with first consulting parliament.
His comments come despite a poll saying that the majority of the British public oppose launching direct airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The ComRes poll found that only 35 percent of the British public would support British air strikes, while 50 percent disagree and 15 percent are unsure.
The Prime Minister said that Britain should continually look at the national interest and ask itself whether just sending in aid was good enough.
The Telegraph says that he pledged to use this week’s Nato meeting to review whether “military measures” were necessary against what he described as the “barbaric” extremists of the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’.
“We must learn the lessons of the past, but we must not be imprisoned by decisions taken in the past… I don’t rule anything out, I don’t think we should,” he said, indicating that he will not be put off by the aftermath of 2003’s US-led invasion.
The ComRes poll also found that there is even stronger opposition to British “boots on the ground”, although David Cameron has so far ruled this out. Only one in five members of the public want to see British ground troops return to the troubled region, while 69 percent do not.
If the Prime Minister were to launch air strikes without consulting parliament, it would break a precedent set by Tony Blair before he went to war in Iraq in 2003. Blair took a considerable risk by seeking parliament’s approval before entering the controversial war with Iraq, although he managed to win. Last year, David Cameron was humiliated when he lost a similar vote on launching air strikes on Syria.
Speaking as he announced new anti-terror powers to combat the growing threat of Islamist extremism, the Prime Minister said that he was concerned the hundreds of UK citizens who have travelled to fight with ISIS could “wreak havoc on our country” if they are allowed to return.
His announcement that border guards would be given the right to confiscate passports of anyone they believe to be travelling to fight for ISIS is broadly welcomed by the public. The majority of respondents – 61 percent – agree that Britons who are travelling to Islamic State should have their passports confiscated, and even that they should be stripped of citizenship.
However, only 39 percent of people agree with London Mayor Boris Johnson’s view that those who travel to Syria and Iraq should be considered to be terrorists until proven innocent. Fifty-two percent disagree.