Party split as Cor­byn calls ac­tion ‘legally ques­tion­able’

The Sunday Telegraph - - Syria Strikes - By Pa­trick Sawer

JEREMY COR­BYN faces a re­bel­lion from his own MPs to­mor­row af­ter de­scrib­ing the airstrikes on Syria as “legally ques­tion­able”.

The mil­i­tary ac­tion by Bri­tain, the US and France has left Labour deeply split, with sev­eral MPs pre­par­ing to back Theresa May in the Com­mons.

The Labour leader said he had urged the Prime Min­is­ter to post­pone the airstrikes dur­ing last-minute talks with Down­ing Street on Fri­day night.

Mr Cor­byn crit­i­cised Mrs May for “tak­ing in­struc­tions from Washington” and said she should have ob­tained Par­lia­ment’s back­ing be­fore launch­ing the strikes.

He said: “Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace. This legally ques­tion­able ac­tion risks es­ca­lat­ing fur­ther, as US de­fence sec­re­tary James Mat­tis has ad­mit­ted, an al­ready dev­as­tat­ing con­flict and there­fore makes real ac­count­abil­ity for war crimes and use of chem­i­cal weapons less, not more likely.

“Bri­tain should be play­ing a lead­er­ship role to bring about a cease­fire in the con­flict, not tak­ing in­struc­tions from Washington and putting Bri­tish mil­i­tary per­son­nel in harm’s way.

“Theresa May should have sought par­lia­men­tary ap­proval, not trailed af­ter Don­ald Trump. The Gov­ern­ment should do what­ever pos­si­ble to push Rus­sia and the United States to agree to an in­de­pen­dent UN-led in­ves­ti­ga­tion of last week­end’s hor­rific chem­i­cal weapons attack so that those re­spon­si­ble can be held to ac­count.”

The leader of the op­po­si­tion, who was vis­it­ing Hud­der­s­field yes­ter­day, said he had told Mrs May in their latenight phone call that Par­lia­ment should have been con­sulted be­fore mil­i­tary ac­tion was taken. He said: “My whole point is that Par­lia­ment should be con­sulted, Par­lia­ment should be al­lowed to take a view on this but, in­stead, the strikes were launched last night.

“She claims there’s a le­gal ba­sis for it. I’ve asked her in a let­ter I’ve just sent to her this morn­ing to pub­lish in full the le­gal ba­sis and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for it.”

But Car­wyn Jones, Labour’s First Min­is­ter of Wales, backed the airstrikes, as long as they were part of a wider plan to bring peace to the re­gion.

Mr Jones said: “I spoke with the PM last night about the ac­tion in Syria. I of­fered my sup­port to any in­ter­ven­tion that could pre­vent a fur­ther atroc­ity.”

John Wood­cock, the Labour MP for Bar­row and Fur­ness, backed the ac­tion, but added: “The prime min­is­ter must ex­plain to Par­lia­ment why she be­lieved it was not ap­pro­pri­ate to put this to vote in ad­vance.”

Mr Cor­byn faces a re­bel­lion from Labour MPs

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