Today Parliament was recalled to vote on whether the UK should join international partners in participating in air strikes to combat ISIL in Iraq. As most will know I do not slavishly follow my party whip and I always think through my votes, whatever the subject, in depth. I consult with constituents and colleagues and listen to what is said before I make my mind up. Today I supported the Government for the following reasons:
– this is no way comparable to the vote on Syria last year. The vote last year was on whether we should intervene in a civil war in Syria. I did not support that and voted against the Government. This vote followed a request from the Iraqi Government to help support their fight against the ISIL extremists who are crippling their attempts to rebuild their country;
– my fears of mission creep were addressed by the PM in his speech. He acknowledged that people had concerns about this but assured the House that there would be no boots on the ground;
– ISIL are barbaric and are a threat to the security of this country and its citizens. I cannot bear to read or hear about the brutality of these extremists but their actions, such as beheading, gauging of eyes, using rape as a weapon are despicable and belong in the dark ages;
– I was overwhelmed by the emails I received from constituents who like me were opposed to military intervention in Syria last year but support air strikes. When I explained my position to those who wrote asking me to oppose, many, although I will be honest and say not all, wrote back and thanked me saying that now I’ve explained it in a bit more detail they supported my position.
This is an incredibly complex situation and I do not like or promote war or conflict but I do think that under the circumstances joining our international partners in dealing with this threat of extremism and terrorism from ISIL is the right thing to do.