Syria crisis: Loss of vote 'devastating blow' to PM
US vows to make its own decision about attack on Assad regime after Commons defeat
DAVID CAMERON has ruled out any British involvement in an attack on Syria after the shock defeat last night of a motion designed to pave the way for military intervention.
The defeat of the motion by 13 votes came after 30 Tory MPs joined ranks with Labour and was described as "a devastating blow" to the PM’s authority by The Guardian.
The result has forced the US to consider going it alone in any assault on the Assad regime and will place "some strain" on relations between Whitehall and Washington, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said.
An attack could still take place however after the US responded to the Commons deafeat by saying it will act in its "best interests" in dealing with the Syria crisis. "Countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable," a White House spokesman said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington could not be held to the foreign policy of others.
The Daily Telegraph’s political editor Robert Winnett points out that the defeat of the motion, by 285 votes to 272, is the first time since the 1956 Suez crisis that an opposition has failed to support Government plans for a deployment of the armed forces and highlights “the deep mistrust of official intelligence in the wake of the Iraq war”.
During the debate yesterday Cameron argued strongly for intervention, urging MPs to watch a series of videos apparently showing the gruesome aftermath of what Syrian rebels and their Western backers say was a chemical strike.
But after the motion was defeated, the PM acknowledged the will of the Commons and the electorate, and told Labour leader Ed Miliband he would not use Royal Perogative powers to go-ahead with a strike.
"I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons," Cameron said. "It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly."
The Independent says the vote leaves Cameron's foreign policy in "disarray" and will raise new questions over his leadership.
The paper says the vote will "dismay the Obama administration, which is now likely to press ahead without the UK, perhaps as early as this weekend". One US military official said after the vote: “We care about what the UK thinks. We value the [Parliamentary] process but we're going to make the decision we need to." ·