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Watch: The speech that has everybody talking and got MPs on their feet

The UK’s shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn made the case for airstikes last night.

Source: Sky News/YouTube

THE UK HAS already started bombing Syria, with the RAF dropping its first bombs within hours of MPs voting last night.

During that debate, Labour’s Hilary Benn delivered what some are calling one of the great political speeches of modern times.

Benn was arguing in favour of airstikes, against the position of his party leader and the majority of MPs in his party.

“My view is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for this motion tonight,” he told members.

Benn began his speech by defending his party leader’s right to oppose airstrikes. He attacked Prime Minister David Cameron for labelling MPs who oppose airstrikes as “terrorists sympathisers”.

Jeremy Corbyn, he said, is  ”an honourable and principled and decent and good man”.

During the course of his speech, Benn repeatedly drew on his party’s history in opposing oppression. He said that although the issues are complex, the question they face is not.

The question is what should we do, with others, to confront this threat to our citizens, our nation, other nations and the people who suffer under the cruel yoke of Daesh? The tragedy of what happened in Paris brought home to us the clear and present danger we face from them.”

Benn turned to his Labour colleagues at one point during his oration and said that, “Francois Hollande the leader of our sister socialist party has asked for our assistance and help.”

He finished his speech by speaking, not for the first time, about fascism:

What we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. It is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists, trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It is why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. My view is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. That is why I ask my colleagues to vote for the motion tonight.

Hilary Benn is the son of late Tony Benn, widely regarded as one the UK’s great parliamentarians who was a prominent anti-war activist.

Read: The UK began bombing Isis in Syria just hours after last night’s vote >

Read: British parliament votes to launch air strikes on Isis in Syria >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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