Lancashire’s MPs say conclusive evidence of chemical warfare must be sought before Britain consents to military intervention in Syria.
MPs across the country headed back to London yesterday for an emergency recall of Parliament to discuss British involvement in the Syrian crisis.
Preston’s Labour MP Mark Hendrick said Labour’s leader Ed Milliband had been right to oppose a Commons vote on military intervention.
He said: “I think the best approach is to do exactly what Ed Milliband has decided, which is to make sure before we commit British forces we have got the evidence before the UN, so the UN security council has the chance to look at that evidence and decide whether military action is justifiable, and not just go straight into military conflict.
“This is a big lesson we have learned from Iraq.
“It was an error not getting proper UN support for what happened in Iraq and we’ve been living with the impact ever since.”
Preston North and Wyre’s Conservative MP Ben Wallace said he had opposed intervention in Syria due to concerns over inconsistencies in Britain’s Middle Eastern policies, but had rethought some of his views after recent chemical attacks.
He said: “It is my view if we allow these weapons to remain either in the Syrian leader’s hands or to get into the hands of Salafist Islamic rebel groups such as Al Qaeda then hundreds more lives will be put in danger. 9/11 and 7/7 has taught us, that given the opportunity, the jihadists who now form many of the rebel groups would be as committed to using chemical weapons on British streets as the Syrian Government is to using them in Damascus. I, therefore, believe that if the Prime Minister and Defence Chiefs can convince me that we have the capability to surgically destroy the chemical weapon stocks and capability then I must support such action.
“I will not, however, support any attempt to broaden action or to become directly involved in regime change. That must remain a matter for the Middle East and Syria.”
Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said whether or not to intervene was the most difficult decision an MP is called to make, because servicemen and women could be called upon to risk their lives in conflict.
He said: “We can all refer back to the so-called evidence over Iraq. I think MPs will need some convincing. I don’t care what your party is – these are not easy decisions.
“I want to hear what is the evidence and what is the proposal and, even more importantly, what’s the long term plan.
“Looking at what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan we haven’t a good track record when it comes to these involvements.”
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said: “It is important any decisions taken are legal and with support of the international community.
“Full knowledge of the appalling murderous gas attacks must be known prior to any decisions being taken.”
West Lancashire’s Labour MP Rosie Cooper said: “The use of chemical weapons in Syria, causing the deaths of and injuries to Syrian civilians is deplorable. However, we need to allow the United Nations time to do their work and gather evidence.
“I do not believe we should rush into military action. A lesson we must learn from Iraq.”
South Ribble’s Conservative MP Lorraine Fullbrook and Chorley’s Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle were both unavailable for comment.