May under fire on role of Par­lia­ment

Ex-chan­cel­lor calls for cross-party group to study West­min­ster’s role in ap­prov­ing mil­i­tary ac­tion

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - Jon vale

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn faced cries of “shame” as he told Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May she was ac­count­able to Par­lia­ment and not Don­ald Trump when it came to mil­i­tary ac­tion in Syria.

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

The prime min­is­ter spent three hours and 10 min­utes at the despatch box de­liv­er­ing her Syria state­ment and answering ques­tions from MPs.

Speaker John Ber­cow said 140 back­bench MPs ques­tioned Mrs May dur­ing the marathon ses­sion.

Mr Cor­byn said: “This state­ment serves as a re­minder that the prime min­is­ter is ac­count­able to this Par­lia­ment, not to the whims of the US pres­i­dent.

“We clearly need a War Pow­ers Act in this coun­try to trans­form a now bro­ken con­ven­tion into a le­gal obli­ga­tion.

“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 that Par­lia­ment has the power to sup­port or stop the gov­ern­ment from tak­ing planned mil­i­tary ac­tion.”

Mr Cor­byn was later suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing an emer­gency de­bate on the rights of Par­lia­ment to de­bate and ap­prove mil­i­tary ac­tion by Bri­tish forces over­seas.

This will take place to­day.

MPs also sup­ported an emer­gency de­bate ap­pli­ca­tion from Labour’s Ali­son McGovern (Wirral South), which al­lows them to con­sider the sit­u­a­tion in Syria and the UK Gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach.

The de­bate will take place on Mon­day and last for up to three hours.

Com­mons Leader An­drea Lead­som was crit­i­cised af­ter the gov­ern­ment did not ta­ble its own de­bate on Syria, as she an­nounced a changed timetable for par­lia­men­tary busi­ness.

She de­fended the move by say­ing the prime min­is­ter had an­swered ques­tions for more than three hours, while there was fur­ther de­bate likely in the com­ing days.

SNP Com­mons leader Peter Wishart ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of its “usual sham­bles and chaos”.

He added: “What we need from this state­ment is this Leader of the House com­ing to this House to say that we’re go­ing to get a full de­bate to­mor­row on an amend­able mo­tion and then di­rectly elected Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment get the op­por­tu­nity to vote on be­half of their con­stituents.”

Dur­ing the prime min­is­ter’s state­ment, Con­ser­va­tive for­mer chan­cel­lor Mr Clarke said: “Once Pres­i­dent Trump had an­nounced to the world what he was propos­ing, a wide­spread de­bate was tak­ing place ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing many MPs in the me­dia, but no de­bate in Par­lia­ment.

“So would she con­sider, once the im­me­di­ate is­sues are over, a cross-party com­mis­sion of some kind to set out pre­cisely what the role of Par­lia­ment is in mod­ern times in the use of mil­i­tary power against an­other state?”

Ian Black­ford, the SNP’s leader at West­min­ster, and Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Sir Vince Ca­ble also said the prime min­is­ter should have called for a vote.

Mrs May pointed to a writ­ten min­is­te­rial state­ment in 2016 which said the gov­ern­ment would not put the con­ven­tion to con­sult Par­lia­ment in law to re­tain the abil­ity to pro­tect the UK in un­pre­dictable cir­cum­stances.

Par­lia­ment would hold her to ac­count for the de­ci­sions taken, the prime min­is­ter added.

Pic­ture: PA.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn se­cured an emer­gency de­bate on the rights of Par­lia­ment to de­bate and ap­prove mil­i­tary ac­tion by Bri­tish forces over­seas.

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