PM faces par­lia­ment ‘crit­i­cism’ over Syria

Harry prom­ises to lis­ten

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LON­DON, April 16, (Agen­cies): Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May faced crit­i­cism on Mon­day for by­pass­ing par­lia­ment to join week­end air strikes against Syria, with some law­mak­ers call­ing for a po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing vote on her fu­ture strat­egy.

May, who has re­gained con­fi­dence af­ter win­ning sup­port for her tough stance on Syria and Rus­sia, made a state­ment to par­lia­ment on her de­ci­sion to join the United States and France in Satur­day’s strikes in re­tal­i­a­tion for a sus­pected gas at­tack.

She re­peated Satur­day’s as­ser­tion that Britain is “con­fi­dent in our own as­sess­ment that the Syr­ian regime was highly likely re­spon­si­ble” and that it could not wait “to al­le­vi­ate fur­ther hu­man­i­tar­ian suf­fer­ing caused by chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks”, ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts of her speech. But she wias grilled over why she broke with a con­ven­tion to seek par­lia­men­tary ap­proval for the ac­tion, a de­ci­sion that she and her min­is­ters say was driven by the need to act quickly.

Much of the crit­i­cism will come from op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers, but the prime min­is­ter may also have to work hard to de­fend her speed of ac­tion to mem­bers of her own Con­ser­va­tive Party who had wanted par­lia­ment re­called.

Jeremy Cor­byn, leader of the main op­po­si­tion Labour Party, has ques­tioned the le­gal ba­sis for Britain’s in­volve­ment.

“She could have re­called par­lia­ment last week,” the veteran peace campaigner said on Sun­day.

“I think what we need in this coun­try is some­thing more ro­bust, like a War Pow­ers Act, so gov­ern­ments do get held to ac­count by par­lia­ment for what they do in our name,” he told the BBC’s An­drew Marr Show.

May

Strikes

Britain has said there are no plans for fu­ture strikes against Syria, but for­eign min­is­ter Boris John­son warned Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad that all op­tions would be con­sid­ered if chem­i­cal weapons were used against Syr­i­ans again.

At a meet­ing of EU 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”.

Cor­byn’s drive for leg­is­la­tion to limit the gov­ern­ment’s power to launch fu­ture mil­i­tary ac­tion could win sup­port in par­lia­ment, where some Con­ser­va­tives have ex­pressed fears that tak­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion could worsen the sit­u­a­tion in Syria.

De­spite win­ning in­ter­na­tional back­ing, May, who has weath­ered ques­tions over her lead­er­ship due to Brexit and party scan­dals, has a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion in par­lia­ment af­ter los­ing the Con­ser­va­tives’ ma­jor­ity in an ill-judged elec­tion in June.

She now re­lies on the sup­port of a small North­ern Ir­ish party, which has sup­ported the ac­tion in Syria, and has tried to dodge votes that might not go her way.

Ni­cola Stur­geon, first min­is­ter of Scot­land, whose Scot­tish Na­tion­al­ist party has 35 seats in par­lia­ment, told the BBC there was a dan­ger that the strike “makes the sit­u­a­tion worse, not bet­ter”.

May’s pre­de­ces­sor, David Cameron, lost a vote on air strikes against As­sad’s forces in 2013, with many in Britain wary of en­ter­ing an­other con­flict, es­pe­cially af­ter an in­quiry con­cluded that then-prime min­is­ter Tony Blair’s de­ci­sion to join the 2003 US-led war against Iraq was based on flawed in­tel­li­gence.

It was not clear whether Labour or other op­po­si­tion par­ties would be able to force an emer­gency de­bate af­ter May’s state­ment, or whether the speaker in the House of Com­mons would grant what one party source called a “mean­ing­ful vote”.

Out­cry over treat­ment of im­mi­grants:

A sim­mer­ing dis­pute over Britain’s treat­ment of peo­ple who came to the coun­try as chil­dren decades ago has erupted just as the coun­try pre­pares to host lead­ers from the 53-na­tion Com­mon­wealth.

Britain had wanted to use this week’s sum­mit in Lon­don of the alliance of the UK and its for­mer colonies to help Britain bol­ster trade and diplo­matic ties around the world af­ter it leaves the Euro­pean Union next year. But trade top­ics are be­ing over­shad­owed by anger over what some in the Com­mon­wealth see as the UK’s shabby treat­ment of res­i­dents of Caribbean ori­gin.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s of­fice said Mon­day that she would meet with her Caribbean coun­ter­parts in Lon­don for the Com­mon­wealth sum­mit to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion of long-term UK res­i­dents who say they have been threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion to their coun­tries of birth.

Mem­bers of the “Win­drush gen­er­a­tion” — named for the ship Em­pire Win­drush, which brought the first big group of post-war Caribbean im­mi­grants to Britain in 1948 — came from what were then Bri­tish colonies or newly in­de­pen­dent states and had an au­to­matic right to set­tle in the UK.

But some from that gen­er­a­tion, now ag­ing and long-times res­i­dents in Britain, say they have been de­nied med­i­cal treat­ment or threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion be­cause they can’t pro­duce pa­pers to prove it.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has taken an in­creas­ingly tough line on im­mi­gra­tion, which has in­creased dra­mat­i­cally over the last 10 or 15 years, largely as re­sult of peo­ple mov­ing to the UK from other EU coun­tries. A de­sire to con­trol im­mi­gra­tion was a ma­jor fac­tor for many who voted in 2016 for Britain to leave the bloc.

Harry starts Com­mon­wealth job:

Prince Harry has been ap­pointed a Com­mon­wealth youth am­bas­sador, his high­est-pro­file pub­lic role to date and a job that will seee him work­ing with his fu­ture wife en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to use the net­work of mostly for­mer Bri­tish colonies.

Queen El­iz­a­beth awarded the po­si­tion to her 33-year-old grand­son who is fifth-in-line to the throne and has led a re­brand­ing of the monar­chy in a bid to make it more mod­ern and rel­e­vant.

“I know that serv­ing as am­bas­sador to young peo­ple I’m go­ing have to try to keep up with you all ... my job will be to lis­ten to you, my duty will be to en­sure that your ideas, con­cerns, thoughts and hopes are heard,” Harry told the open­ing of a Com­mon­wealth fo­rum dis­cussing youth is­sues.

The an­nounce­ment co­in­cides with the start of a sum­mit of the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment in Lon­don this week, which will seek to boost the net­work at a time when Britain is ne­go­ti­at­ing its de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union.

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