MPs cautious over military response to Syrian crisis
MPs in the Westcountry are harbouring doubts over military intervention in Syria after David Cameron recalled Parliament to vote on possible action.
The Prime Minister said there would be a clear Government motion laid before MPs on the UK's response to the chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus that left hundreds dead.
MPs will return to Westminster tomorrow, cutting short the summer parliamentary recess. Military action could involve Royal Marines, sailors and submariners based in the South West.
Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, made clear he is opposed to any military action in Syria even if critics find President Bashar Assad's regime "unacceptable".
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Lib Dem colleague Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said it was "utterly unacceptable" chemical weapons are used against unarmed civilians but said it is vital to discuss the "military options that are available".
Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes, argues MPs should be allowed to "reject action" through a free vote as war is "easier to start than finish".
Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon, said while he supported "limited missile strikes" following the use of chemical weapons, he added there was no "appetite" for long-term intervention.
Vessels reportedly readied to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes are said to include the Devonport-based Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose and an unnamed nuclear submarine – almost certainly HMS Tireless, which left Plymouth last month and was reportedly spotted off Gibraltar on Saturday.
HMS Montrose, along with the Devonport-based assault ship HMS Bulwark and members of Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, are part of the Cougar 13 training deployment, which began exercising in the Mediterranean earlier this month.
Mr George said: "You may think that the regime is unpalatable or unacceptable, but that's not a justification for our military to be sent in. What would you bomb? What if you missed the target and made the situation worse?"
Mr Gilbert said: "We simply can not sit back and allow the use of chemical weapons against unarmed civilians at the start of the 21st century.
"It's utterly unacceptable and quite clearly the Assad regime is in breach of international law. However it will be important over the next 48 hours to consider the findings of the UN inspectors and to discuss the military options that are available with our allies before determining a course of action."
Dr Wollaston said: "I welcome recall of Parliament but this must be an open debate not just a chance to respond to a statement. It must followed by a free vote."
Mr Streeter said: "I would not support any intervention in the civil war. If there has been widespread use of chemical weapons, I would support limited missile strikes.
"But I would not support troops on the ground or any further military intervention. I don't think there is any appetite for that in this constituency."