Syria crisis: PM's fury as Miliband withdraws support for attack
David Cameron 'damaged' by vote debacle as Labour leader scores rare political victory
A FOUL-MOUTHED four-letter outburst from Downing Street against Labour leader Ed Miliband has underlined the extent to which David Cameron has been damaged by today's botched vote on military action against Syria, and how it has strengthened the Labour leader.
Kevin Maguire, political editor of the Daily Mirror, is alleging a Downing Street official described the Leader of the Opposition as a "f-ing c**t" after Ed Miliband rang the Prime Minister at 5.15 pm yesterday to tell him he could not support Cameron's motion sanctioning military action against the Syrian regime over the use of chemical weapons.
Maguire tweeted today: "Does No 10 think British public and battalion of anti-war Con MPs are a "f***ing c**t" because Miliband isn't alone #syria."
The reason for the angry outburst from Downing Street is that Cameron feels betrayed by Miliband. BBC political editor Nick Robinson said today Cameron had given Miliband an unprecedented number of face-to-face briefings to get him onside, and began briefing against Miliband when he backed out of supporting the government.
Robinson said: "Ed Miliband has been able to claim a political victory ... the government has lost control of events. This is a pretty remarkable state of affairs."
Cameron was forced to ditch a plan to get Parliament to endorse action against the Assad regime because he realised that without Labour he could not get a majority.
There are rumours that Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Theresa May both argued against taking military action before the UN weapons inspectors hand in their report on the attack near Damascus.
Miliband twisted the knife this morning by announcing that Labour will vote against a compromise motion offering a second vote at a later stage if the UN weapons inspectors report chemical weapons were used.
Labour have tabled a motion saying the government must get a UN resolution before launching a military strike on Syria. That could make it impossible for Cameron to get a Commons majority for military action, and leave Barack Obama with no option but to attack the Syrian regime without Britain's participation.
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister, defended the government on BBC's Today programme, saying: "By doing nothing in the face of a war crime and a brutally barbarous dictatorship you are sending out a message."
Cameron is fighting back by publishing legal advice by the Attorney General later this morning which presumably says the action would be sanctioned by law. The PM will also release a report from the Joint Intelligence and Security Committee. But there is no doubt that Cameron has been diminished by the attempt to stampede Parliament into support for speedy military action in Syria.
Tory rebel John Barron came close to backing Miliband's refusal to support Cameron. Barron said: "A number of us, Conservative backbenchers, think it is absolutely right that the PM has been forced to listen."
The threat of a military strike against Syria is not off the table, but after this debacle, it could mean that the US will have to go it alone. ·