UK's May Defends Striking Syria Without Seeking Parliament's Backing

Clay Curtis
April 17, 2018

Theresa May says she has "responsibility as Prime Minister to make decisions" and that she "will make them".

"It is right that Parliament has the power to support or stop the government from taking planned military action", he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May will face a second debate in as many days on Britain's role in bombing Syria on Tuesday after she stayed late the night before listening to lawmakers' views in the House of Commons.

"Let me be absolutely clear: we have acted because it is in our national interest to do so".

May will reportedly say that she was "confident in our own assessment that the Syrian regime was highly likely responsible and there was need to alleviate further humanitarian suffering caused by chemical weapons attacks".

Syria and Russian Federation have both denied that Syrian government forces carried out the Douma gas attack, suggesting it may have been staged to implicate them.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has denied responsibility.

Jeremy Corbyn challenged this claim saying a diplomatic process led by John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov after a chemical weapons attack in 2013 resulted in the destruction of 600 tonnes of chemical weapons.

Confirming Britain's involvement in the attack in her speech, May said: "We would have preferred an alternative path".

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The US, France and Britain launched strikes a day before chemical weapons inspectors had even arrived in Syria. But the after-the-fact debate - without a binding vote - did not satisfy angry opposition lawmakers.

"The UK prime minister is accountable to parliament, not to the whims of a U.S. president", he wrote in a weekend letter to May and reiterated in the House of Commons on Monday.

He told the Commons that her statement to the House shows that she should be accountable to Parliament - not to the whims of the U.S. President. "We have done it because we believe it was the right thing to do - and we are not alone".

While some Conservatives also expressed their regret that she had bypassed parliament, May also enjoyed praise from others - one calling her a "real prime minister" by moving swiftly to support the joint air strikes.

Addressing Parliament, she added the United Kingdom had "explored every diplomatic channel" but said military intervention had proven necessary and the United Kingdom was acting in the national interest, not just following US President Trump.

Some French opposition leaders have criticized the strikes, saying they were not legitimate.

Out of the 2,060 respondents in the survey, 54 percent also agreed with the statement that May "should have held a parliamentary debate and vote before intervening militarily in Syria". And we have published the legal basis for this action, the British premier said.

At a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, he again said the strikes were not aimed at regime change in Syria, but rather sent the message that the world has "had enough of the use of chemical weapons".

More than 70 delegations are expected at the April 24-25 donor conference for Syria in Brussels.

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