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David Cameron is ready to strike Isis in Syria, but would it make the UK safer?

David Cameron made his case today.
Nov 26th 2015, 7:56 PM 7,572 82

Source: BBC News/YouTube

UK PRIME MINISTER David Cameron argued his case to MPs for Britain to join air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria amid signs that opposition was weakening after the Paris attacks.

Cameron told the House of Commons that Britain should not “wait until an attack takes place here” before acting, adding it was “morally” unacceptable to be “content with outsourcing our security to our allies”.

A vote is expected to be held early next week.

While the numbers are tight, MPs look set to approve the move, meaning the first British air strikes on Syria could come within days.

“If we won’t act now when our friend and ally France has been struck in this way, then our friends and allies can be forgiven for asking: ‘If not now, when?’” Cameron said.

The prime minister has stepped up pressure on MPs to vote for strikes since IS claimed responsibility for the November 13 attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.

Britain is involved in air strikes on IS targets in Iraq but has so far shied away from joining action in Syria. Many MPs are still troubled by the memory of unpopular British interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Italy Britain Libya A British Typhoon jet fighter jet from the Royal Air Force's. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is opposed to any military action but some Labour MPs say they could support the move.

Corbyn said there was “no doubt” of the threat posed by IS but added:

“The question must now be whether extending the UK bombing from Iraq to Syria is likely to reduce or increase that threat”.

It’s led to a power struggle within the Labour party as members seek to defy their leader and Corbyn struggles to set the direction of his party.

The Labour front bench are split over whether or not the UK should join air-strikes with their foreign affairs spokesperson saying there is a “compelling case” to do so.

Corbyn has, however, written to Labour MP’s and peers arguing that the majority of grassroot party members are against air-strikes and MPs are out of touch.

The Huffington Post quotes Corbyn as saying in the letter:

“In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK. “

The Scottish National Party, the third largest party in the Commons, is against the bombing and will vote against the move.

Source: BBC News/YouTube

Cameron’s government suffered one of its most embarrassing defeats in 2013 when a previous motion on taking military action against the Assad regime in Syria was defeated by Labour party.

But this time, things look different. Cameron said he will not call a vote until he is sure of securing a clear parliamentary majority.

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No British ground troops

The prime minister still faces a fight in the coming days to persuade enough MPs to support joining air strikes, particularly as his centre-right Conservatives have a Commons working majority of only 17.

The prime minister’s campaign received a boost when Crispin Blunt, chairman of the influential Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said he would now support air strikes, having previously opposed them.

Cameron adopted an open, conciliatory tone with MPs, taking several hours of questions about the seven-point strategy on Syria he presented.

This stressed the need for a political settlement and a new government in Syria to replace the Assad regime while taking military action against IS.

Austria Britain British Prime Minister David Cameron speaking from Austria. Source: AP/Press Association Images

He ruled out deploying British ground troops to Syria, implicitly acknowledging the lessons of Britain’s interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan under Tony Blair.

“There is good evidence from history that the presence of Western ground troops could itself be a radicaliser,” Cameron said. “We don’t propose the application of British ground troops.”

A string of MPs questioned Cameron’s assertion that there were 70,000 moderate Syrian forces on the ground who could help secure territory cleared by air strikes.

Julian Lewis, Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, said the figure was “a revelation to me” while Labour’s Emily Thornberry added there was “some question about whether they really exist”.

Others wondered whether joining air strikes could distract from the push for a diplomatic solution.

A Times/YouGov opinion poll last week found that 58% of people would approve of Britain joining air strikes in Syria, compared to 22% against.

Read: Turkey won’t apologise to Russia for ‘treacherous stabs in the back’ >

Read: Tom Clonan: Video means it’s official – Ireland is a target for Islamic State >

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