Cor­byn ques­tions le­gal­ity of strikes with­out ap­proval

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

Theresa May’s de­ci­sion to launch the Syria air strikes with­out par­lia­men­tary ap­proval led to re­newed crit­i­cism from MPs yes­ter­day. And the govern­ment’s fail­ure to ac­tu­ally lead a debate in the Com­mons led to fur­ther at­tacks last night.

Labour Leader Jeremy Cor­byn faced cries of “shame” as he told the prime min­is­ter she was ac­count­able to par­lia­ment and not to US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump when it came to mil­i­tary ac­tion.

MPs were be­ing given their first op­por­tu­nity to quiz Theresa May over the mis­sile strikes which took place early on Satur­day on mil­i­tary tar­gets.

Se­nior Tory Ken Clarke called on Mrs May to es­tab­lish a cross-party com­mis­sion to look at par­lia­ment’s role in ap­prov­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion.

Mr Cor­byn said of Mrs May and David Cameron: “Her pre­de­ces­sor came to this House to seek au­thor­ity for mil­i­tary ac­tion in Libya and in Syria in 2015, and the House had a vote over Iraq in 2003.

“There is no more se­ri­ous is­sue than the life and death mat­ters of mil­i­tary ac­tion. It is right par­lia­ment has power to sup­port or stop the govern­ment from tak­ing planned mil­i­tary ac­tion. I be­lieve the ac­tion was le­gally ques­tion­able.”

But Mrs May de­fended her de­ci­sion not to re­call par­lia­ment, sug­gest­ing the “se­cu­rity” of the op­er­a­tion could have been com­pro­mised.

“The speed with which we acted was es­sen­tial in co-op­er­at­ing with our part­ners to al­le­vi­ate fur­ther hu­man­i­tar­ian suf­fer­ing and to main­tain the vi­tal se­cu­rity of our op­er­a­tions,” she said.

The de­ci­sion re­quired the eval­u­a­tion of in­tel­li­gence “much of which was of a na­ture that could not be shared with par­lia­ment”.

Speaker John Ber­cow had to in­ter­vene to calm MPs, telling them Mr Cor­byn must be af­forded the same “re­spect­ful quiet” given to Mrs May.

Ian Black­ford, High­land MP and SNP leader in West­min­ster, said it was “per­fectly possible” for the House to have been recalled be­fore the air strikes.

Last night, Mr Ber­cow said min­is­ters could have tabled an emer­gen­cy­de­vate motion had they wanted to do so.

Com­mons leader An­drea Lead­som in­formed MPs of a re­vised sched­ule of busi­ness for the week, al­though there was no men­tion of a gen­eral debate in govern­ment time on Syria.

Shadow Com­mons leader Va­lerie Vaz said: “The prime min­is­ter ear­lier said that she wanted to be held ac­count­able but the govern­ment seems to rely on the out­come of an SO24 (emer­gency debate) ap­pli­ca­tion to debate this very im­por­tant is­sue.”

Con­ser­va­tive for­mer min­is­ter Mark Harper was among those to suggest the govern­ment should lead a debate on Syria, say­ing it would “strengthen” the govern­ment’s po­si­tion.

Mr Ber­cow said: “It is open to the govern­ment to ta­ble a motion . . . on any mat­ter it chooses. I am not an ob­sta­cle to an amend­able govern­ment motion.”

Mrs Lead­som re­peat­edly said Mrs May had spent over three hours an­swer­ing ques­tions from MPs.

MPs sup­ported a bid from Mr Cor­byn for an emer­gency debate, to be held to­day, which will al­low them to con­sider the rights of par­lia­ment to ap­prove mil­i­tary ac­tion by Bri­tish forces over­seas.

“It is open to the govern­ment to tableamo­tion forade­bate”

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