Cameron forced to rule out British attack on Syria after defeat in parliament

The Guardian reports: David Cameron indicated on Thursday evening that Britain would not take part in military action against Syria after the British government lost a crucial vote on an already watered-down amendment that was designed to pave the way to intervention in the war-torn country.

In a devastating blow to his authority, the prime minister lost a government motion by 272 votes to 285 – an opposition majority of 13 – after scores of Tory MPs voted with Labour.

Ministers had thought they were secure after a Labour amendment was defeated, in the first vote of the night, 332 votes to 220, a government majority of 112.

Labour claimed that the government ran into trouble when deputy prime minister Nick Clegg struggled, in the closing minutes of the debate, to answer concerns on all sides of the house that the government motion would have taken Britain closer to joining a US military operation against the Assad regime in Syria after last week’s chemical weapons attack.

One MP shouted “resign” as the results were read out by the speaker. David Cameron said the government would respect the decision of parliament which means that Britain will not take part in military strikes against Syria.

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4 thoughts on “Cameron forced to rule out British attack on Syria after defeat in parliament

  1. bobs

    The poodle won’t play ball this time. Will be fun watching Hollande squirm his way out of that one. As for Obama, a textbook own-goal. Putin 1 – Obama 0.

  2. hquain

    PW — do you have insight into the background of this astonishing development?

    Is it possible that the British pols learned something from the Iraq disaster?

  3. Paul Woodward

    Insight, as in, what particular virtues of the British character facilitated this burst of sanity? 🙂

    Actually, I mostly draw from this the rather obvious conclusion that this shows the great strength of a parliamentary democracy.

    One of the ironies about American perceptions of Britain is the notion that Americans escaped from the oppressive rule of a monarch whereas Britain hasn’t been able to fully shed that burden. It’s true that Britain still has the biggest tax-dodging bunch of royal freeloaders squatting in their palaces, but politically the monarch now has a purely symbolic function as head of state. There is however a canny virtue in having retained this institution in that it has meant that the leader of the government, the prime minister, cannot become a pseudo-monarch.

    Americans on the other hand, don’t seem to object to the idea of monarchical power — they just want there to be greater access to that power, so the US has the burden of a rolling monarchy with kings who reign from 4 to 8 years. I see this as part of the American infatuation with power — the ideas that America is the most powerful nation on earth and that the president is the most powerful individual and that these concentrations of power are desirable things.

    America, for all its pretensions about being the birthplace of modern democracy, fails to live up to its image of itself because (I believe) it has a structurally flawed system of representation — its biggest flaw being in the institution of the presidency.

  4. Ian F Clark

    At a guess, the particular virtue in the British parliament was a war-weariness induced by lies from the Bush years.

    They seem to forget that it is in our collective interest to punish and prevent ANY use of chemical weapons and that we have the means to do so. Smashing up one or two of Bashir Assad’s command and control centers with cruise missiles is ideal. It brings the problem to his attention and kills a few generals who otherwise kill others with impunity.

    I support our president even though the perfidious and short-sighted British shrink from this task. Maybe we can redress the wrong we did to the Iranians when we supported Saddam Hussein’s use of chem weapons in the Reagan years.

    It is a good and rightful thing.

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