The British House of Commons is today sitting in an mammoth seven hour debate to discuss strikes against ISIS in Iraq. The Prime Minister and Leader of the opposition have made their statements and now other members of the house are having their chance to debate airstrikes. A vote is expected after 1700BST, and military action could begin by midnight.
Should strikes commence, six RAF Tornado aircraft from the British sovereign base on Akrotiri, Cyprus would be available immediately and could be joined by more aircraft later.
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1700 – Members of Parliament are at divisions
The speaker has called MPs to divisions, and they are filing into their respective lobbies. Some members we know will vote in certain ways, as they have made their thoughts known over past days. Others are less certain but there are rumours of rebels within the government, with sources indicating 20 Conservatives will go against the whip.
1320 – No Respect for Dr. Fox from Galloway
Respect party leader George Galloway has hit back at those in the chamber who have criticised the motion for not including Syria, complaining of ‘Mission Creep’, which is quickly developing into the dire de la jour. “The mission creep has not even waited to the end of the debate”, he said.
“Isil is a death cult, it’s a gang of terrorist murderers. It’s not an army and it’s certainly not an army that’s going to be destroyed by aerial bombardment.
“This will not be solved by bombing. We have been bombing Iraqis for 100 years. We dropped the world’s first chemical bombs on them in the 1920s. We attacked them and helped to kill their King in the 1930s. We helped in the murder of their President in 1963, helping the Ba’ath party into power. We bombed them again through the 1990s”.
1230 – The Lords Spiritual have their say
It may be easy to forget that this debate is being heard in the House of Lords as well. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has announced his support for military intervention, and has said: “We must face the fact that for some young Muslims the attractions of jihadism outweigh the materialism of a consumer society…It is the role of the church I serve to point beyond our imperfect responses and any material, national or political interest to the message of Jesus Christ and the justice, healing and redemption that he offers.
“But in the here and now, there is justification for the use of armed force on humanitarian grounds, to enable oppressed victims to find safe space. The action proposed today is right, but we must not rely on a short-term solution on a narrow front to a global, ideological, religious, holistic and trans-generational challenge. We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of ISIL and its global clones. Such a vision offers us and the world hope, an assurance of success in this struggle, not the endless threat of darkness”.
1220 – Former Defence Secretary Dr. Liam Fox Speaks
Dr. Fox has criticised Labour leader Ed Miliband for insisting Syria be kept off the bill today, noting that ISIS does not respect borders and attempting to defeat ISIS without going into Syria would be “an impossible task“.
Speaking to the chamber, Dr. Fox said: “it is a mistake not to include Syria in today’s motion. ISIL operates from Syria. It attacks individuals, communities and the Iraqi state itself from Syria. There is a clear legal case for attacking ISIL bases in Syria. I am afraid that sooner or later we are going to have to do it. It would be far better if we said so explicitly today”.
1145 – Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband Has Responded to the Prime Minister
While offering support to the Government’s plans, Miliband has expressed concern about mission creep and warned against expanding the mission into neighbouring Syria. Supporting the Prime Minister he said: “It is about air strikes against ISIL in Iraq. It is not about ground troops from the United Kingdom, or about UK military action elsewhere. It is a mission specifically aimed at ISIL”.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon interrupted Miliband to ask whether he would support a widening of the mission in future to defeat ISIS in Syria. Mr. Miliband responded by saying: “There is a strong argument about the legal base for action in Syria under article 51. The point that I have been making in the last few days is that, in my view, when we are not talking about being invited in by a democratic state, it would be better–I put it no higher than that–to seek a UN Security Council resolution. Why? Because that is the highest multilateral institution of the world and therefore it would be better to seek authorisation on the basis of that”.
1115 – Prime Minister David Cameron Has Made His Address
Cameron has framed the necessity of launching strikes against ISIS as a matter of defending the British homeland, reminding members of the immediate threat of terror attacks to NATO members including America, Australia, Turkey, the UK and other European countries.
“ISIL has already murdered one British hostage and is threatening two more. The first ISIL inspired terrorist acts in Europe have already taken place with, for instance the attack on the Jewish museum in brussels. Security services have disrupted six other known plots in Europe, as well as foiling a terrorist attack in Australia, aimed at civilians including British and American tourists”.
“This is not a threat on the far side of the world. Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the mediterranean, and bordering a NATO member with a declared and proven determination to attack our country and our people. This is not the stuff of fantasy, it is happening in front of us and we need to face up to it”.