The UK Parliament voted in favor of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron received a majority of 174 MPs, 67 of them reportedly Labour supporters.
Despite calls from the British people to vote against the airstrikes, the UK Parliament voted in favor. It was disappointing to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, who says that Cameron failed to provide a convincing argument. Corbyn, admittedly a pacifist, says that airstrikes will not improve British security and could lead to further extremism. This is an argument Cameron had put forward in October. It was only after the attacks on November 13 in Paris that the Prime Minister changed his mind.
The UK Parliament sat through over 10 hours of debates over the airstrikes. The majority of the Scottish National Party (SNP) was against the airstrikes. Much of the Labour Party were also against, but Corbyn did give them a free vote. Many of the party leader’s frontbenchers threatened to resign if they did not have the free vote. Corbyn could have used the whip to ensure his party members voted against the Conservative plans. It would not have created a majority against the airstrikes, though.
During the 10-hour debate, Cameron offended a number of people in the UK Parliament. He claimed that those who were against the airstrikes were “terrorist sympathizers.” The hashtag soon started trending on social media, as members of the public took offense to the comment. Cameron was called upon to apologize for the remark on at least 12 occasions, but refused to do so. He said that he wanted to get the debate back on track. Corbyn said that Cameron’s slur was untrue and “demeaned” his office.
The Prime Minister used the debate to ask one question: “Do we work with our allies” to help destroy the ISIS threat. He believed that going up against ISIS at home would be better for British security, as the terrorists are already plotting to kill the British people. He also said that Islamic State was looking to radicalize British children. Not everyone agreed that war would bring an end to war. Corbyn said that it put too many innocent people at risk, including families in Syria and the armed forces.
Cameron also said that the UK Parliament should stop referring to the terrorists as IS, ISIS or Islamic State. The group should be called Daesh, which has negative connotations within the area. Some view this as a challenge to the group’s legitimacy, according to the BBC. It also makes it clear that the group is not a “true representation of Islam.”
Just hours after the debate ended, airstrikes took place against Syria. The Guardian reports that the RAF were sent in during the early hours of the morning in Britain for the first offensive strikes. Six ISIS-controlled oilfield targets were attacked during the initial wave, and there will be eight more jets later joining others at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, read for more attacks.
The Syria vote by the UK Parliament has made many people in Britain angry. They argue that the MPs have not acted on their behalf, as many were against the airstrikes. There had been protests outside Westminster during the debate, and petitions were signed to encourage MPs to vote against the airstrikes. Throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, the hashtag #DontBombSyria spread quickly in support of finding other action.
Corbyn went on to argue that Cameron’s insistence of the quick debate and vote was due to the public pressure against the war. He wanted to strike while he still had the majority, because he knew that it would not last as more of the UK Parliament had the chance to really listen to their constituents.
[Featured photo by Ben Prunchie/Getty Images]