May de­nies or­ders from Wash­ing­ton on airstrikes

Ottawa Citizen - - WORLD - Gor­don rayner, Jack Maid­Ment and Ma­son Boy­cott-owen

LON­DON • Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has de­fended her de­ci­sion to join airstrikes by the U.S. and France in Syria and in­sisted that she did not do so on the “in­struc­tion” of Don­ald Trump.

Ad­dress­ing the House of Com­mons for the first time since au­tho­riz­ing airstrikes over the week­end, May laid out the gov­ern­ment’s ra­tio­nale and fended off crit­i­cism of her de­ci­sion not to put the de­ci­sion to a par­lia­men­tary vote.

Some op­po­si­tion Labour MPs were cheered as they praised May for bomb­ing Syria, while Labour Leader Jeremy Cor­byn was at­tacked from his back­benches for turn­ing a blind eye to those re­spon­si­ble for gassing chil­dren.

The Labour leader was left iso­lated as his own MPs mocked him for crit­i­ciz­ing May for or­der­ing airstrikes fol­low­ing a chem­i­cal weapons at­tack near Da­m­as­cus. Cor­byn will put pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment to seek the per­mis­sion of MPs be­fore fu­ture de­ploy­ments of the armed forces in a de­bate Tues­day.

But May made it clear she would bomb Syria again if it used chem­i­cal weapons and would not feel the need to seek Par­lia­ment’s per­mis­sion to do so.

On Mon­day, it emerged that Trump favoured bomb­ing Rus­sian and Ira­nian tar­gets in Syria us­ing three times the fire­power that was even­tu­ally de­ployed be­fore he was talked out of it by James Mat­tis, the United States pres­i­dent’s de­fence sec­re­tary.

May ad­dressed Par­lia­ment for the first time since Satur­day’s cruise mis­sile strike, set­ting out her rea­sons for tak­ing ac­tion be­fore answering ques­tions from 140 MPs.

Asked if she would do the same again if Syria com­mit­ted fur­ther out­rages, an un­re­pen­tant May said: “No­body should be in any doubt of our re­solve to en­sure that we can­not see a sit­u­a­tion where the use of chem­i­cal weapons is nor­mal­ized.”

“I set out the ba­sis of which we took this de­ci­sion and I rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of Par­lia­ment, but it’s also im­por­tant that the gov­ern­ment is able to act, and there will al­ways be cir­cum­stances in which it is im­por­tant to act with­out that de­bate hav­ing taken place in Par­lia­ment,” she added.

Cor­byn was greeted with an­gry shouts of “shame!” when he told MPs: “The prime min­is­ter is ac­count­able to this Par­lia­ment, not to the whims of the U.S. pres­i­dent.”

Cor­byn once again sug­gested Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad might be in­no­cent of the chem­i­cal at­tack as “other groups” could have car­ried it out, and said the airstrikes were “legally ques­tion­able.”

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