Published: Thu, April 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Theresa May rejects Jeremy Corbyn's War Powers Act demand

Theresa May rejects Jeremy Corbyn's War Powers Act demand

Jeremy Corbyn has called on MPs to assert their authority over British military action after Theresa May's government failed to consult parliament ahead of last weekend's air strikes against Syria.

The document added: "In these circumstances, and as an exceptional measure on grounds of overwhelming humanitarian necessity, military intervention to strike carefully considered, specifically identified targets in order effectively to alleviate humanitarian distress by degrading the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability and deterring further chemical weapons attacks was necessary and proportionate and therefore legally justifiable".

Someday, however, the prime minister could be Mr Corbyn.

"Making it unlawful for Her Majesty's Government to undertake any such military intervention without a vote would seriously compromise our national security, our national interests and the lives of British citizens at home and overseas", Mrs May said.

The Prime Minister defended her decision to take action without seeking Parliament's approval, saying that coming to the Commons beforehand would have compromised the "effectiveness of our operations and safety of British servicemen and women".

Mr Corbyn said: "It is important that our armed forces know that they have the democratic backing of Parliament". If I had come here to the House to make the case for action in advance, I could not have concealed our plans and retained that uncertainty.

She said a War Powers Act would mean smaller-scale and targeted military action such as the strikes on suspected chemical weapons sites in Syria "would become unviable".

"And for as long as I'm prime minister, that will never be allowed to happen".

"I am absolutely clear that it is parliament's responsibility to hold me accountable for this type of decision - and parliament will do so".

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For the hosts, it was another step towards safety with Chris Hughton's side now eight points above the drop-zone. Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, with 30 league goals this season, was also included.

The debate was unusually rowdy, and Speaker John Bercow was forced to intervene several times to stop the barracking of Corbyn.

Speaking afterwards, Labour rebel John Woodcock said: "I didn't vote, and I think a number of my colleagues couldn't really understand what the point in voting in quite the way we were asked (was)".

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford said the Government needs to "reflect very carefully" on the debate between ministers today.

"When we act, we act in what we believe to be the national interest, that is our only concern".

In Britain's House of Commons, much of Monday's scheduled business was scrapped for an emergency debate on the airstrikes that stretched late into the evening.

Theresa May has won a second symbolic vote on her decision to launch air strikes, following another day of fraught parliamentary debate on Syria.

"These briefings appear to have been offered to members of the Labour opposition not on the basis of privy counsellor status but on the basis of those Opposition members who are sympathetic to the Government's position".

"Before action, briefing was only offered to opposition leaders".

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