Syria crisis: PM accused of climbdown as intervention vote shelved
Opposition from Labour and his own MPs forces PM to delay vote on action until UN inspectors report back
DAVID CAMERON has been accused of a "climbdown" after he stepped back from plans to hold a Commons vote today on British military intervention in Syria.
Faced with public hostility, widespread dissent within his own party and Labour's threat to withdraw support for the plan, the PM shelved his push for a "speedy" vote, the BBC reports.
Instead, MPs will today debate military action in Syria in principle only. The motion that will be put to the House states that a final vote on action should be held only after UN inspectors report on the alleged chemical attack that killed as many as 1,300 people near Damascus.
Today's motion will ask MPs to agree the principle that a "strong humanitarian response" is required from the international community and "this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on saving lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria's chemical weapons".
Sky News' chief political correspondent Jon Craig said: "This motion looks very bland, very uncontroversial. He added that Cameron has "put off a decision really and that will be seen as a climbdown."
Asked last night if the government had "backed down" over the issue, Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was necessary to proceed "on a consensual basis". "The motion that we're putting forward tomorrow reflects the prime minister's recognition of the deep concerns in this country over what happened over Iraq," he added.
The PM's new motion was shaped by an amendment tabled by Labour yesterday outlining conditions it said should be met before any military action is taken. It demanded "compelling evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of these weapons", that action would be legal in international law and that the Parliament can vote on UK participation.
A Labour source told Sky News: "We cannot give the PM a blank cheque. We should see the UN evidence before making a decision. This conflict has been going on for two and a half years. If it takes another two and a half days we will do so."
Cameron's decision to await the evidence obtained by UN weapons inspectors before taking military action came as President Obama said he was certain the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical attack. Obama said a missile strike on Syria would be a "shot across the bows" that would hopefully deter the Syrian government from using chemical weapons again.
Despite his conviction that the Assad regime was responsible, Obama said he had not made a final decision on military action. ·