British Prime Minister David Cameron has signalled he may drop plans for military intervention in Syria if the hard-left Jeremy Corbyn is elected leader of the Labour Party.
Speaking in Madrid, the Prime Minister said he would only call a vote if there was a “genuine consensus” on airstrikes. Corbyn is strongly opposed to intervention and, given the government’s small majority, could defeat them on the issue if some Conservatives either rebel or fail to turn up.
Cameron said: “I would only proceed going further on this issue if there is genuine consensus in the United Kingdom about it before going back to parliament.”
Corbyn has consistently said that he would not support British action in Syria, while David Cameron is bound to seek parliament’s support for extending airstrikes into the country after a previous plan for intervention was voted down.
Although the Prime Minister can technically overrule parliament on military matters by using the royal prerogative, such a move would be highly controversial as it is now established practice that parliament should approve major military deployments.
The Guardian says that the government had originally planned to hold a vote as early as this month, but the emergence of Corbyn as surprise favourite to win the Labour leadership has now forced them to rethink.
Cameron needs a support from a large number of Labour MPs to stand a realistic chance of winning the vote as up to 20 Conservatives may vote against, but many may feel pressured into voting with their new leader so as not to undermine him at such an early stage.
“We support the action that is being taken against Isil [Isis] in Syria. We are directly carrying that out in Iraq where the RAF have carried out a series of strikes with allies and degraded and set back Isil. I believe that process should continue and will continue,” Cameron said.
He added, however: “I would only proceed going further on this issue if there is genuine consensus in the United Kingdom about it before going back to parliament.”