Prime minister urges MPs from Suffolk and Essex to back him in extending air strikes on Syria ahead of tonight’s vote
- Credit: PA
East Anglia’s MPs will enter a crunch debate and vote today still undecided on whether to back the Prime Minister’s bid to extend air strikes into Syria.
Colchester’s Will Quince, a Conservative MP, said he had real concerns about “mission creep” and needed assurances there would not be ground troops, which could come from Colchester.
He also said he had concerns about what would happen once Islamic State terrorists were defeated. Clacton MP Douglas Carswell, the UK Independence Party’s only MP, will also arrive in the House of Commons debating chamber undecided.
David Cameron has urged MPs from all parties to unite behind British air strikes against the Islamic State terror group in Syria.
Downing Street made clear that RAF bombing missions against IS – also known as Isil, Isis and Daesh – in Syria are likely to start within days if MPs back military action tonight.
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An extra two Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk are expected to be sent to join eight aircraft already stationed at a British air base in Cyprus.
Jeremy Corbyn’s decision on Monday to allow his MPs a free vote looks likely to deliver Mr Cameron the clear majority for air strikes that he is seeking, with 50 or more Labour MPs expected to join Tories and Ulster Unionists in backing action.
But Mr Corbyn insisted “more and more” Labour MPs were becoming sceptical about the proposals, warning: “We are not going to bomb our way to democracy.”
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Cabinet unanimously gave its formal approval to a motion which not only authorises air strikes in Syria, but also sets out plans to pursue a political solution to the Middle Eastern country’s four-year civil war, commits Britain to humanitarian support and assistance with post-conflict reconstruction and rules out the deployment of UK ground combat troops.
But Lord Dannatt, a former head of the British army, said: “Although it’s quite specifically excluded from tomorrow’s motion in the House of Commons, and as much
as I don’t want to see British, American, French boots on the ground, if we are serious about defeating Islamic State it may have to come to that.
“I don’t want to do that but if we are serious about success then we may have to look at all options at some point in the future after another vote in the House of Commons in some months’ time.”
Speaking after the cabinet meeting in Number 10, Mr Cameron said: “That motion talks about, yes, the necessity of taking military action against Isil in Syria as well as Iraq, but it is part of a broader strategy.
“It’s about politics and diplomacy and humanitarian aid, all of which we need to bring to bear to bring peace to Syria but to make sure we protect our national interest of fighting against this appalling terrorist organisation.”
He added: “I will be making the arguments and I hope as many Members of Parliament – across all parties – will support me as possible.”
Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman said that the mood at the weekly cabinet meeting was “very serious”, with the PM stressing “the complexities of the challenges we face, and the fact that this will require patience and persistence”.
For live updates throughout the evening, follow our politial reporter Annabelle Dickson who will be tweeting from the Press Gallery at the House of Commons.
For more on the battle against ISIS, see here