Vote on Airstrikes in Syria

I read through all the emails I received from constituents and raised some of the sensible comments and suggestions with various Cabinet Ministers I personally met with. I know how important it is to get the much needed assurances to a variety of concerns. The decision I made did not come easy, and I have definitely been a thorn in the side of many Ministers this week.

Some of the assurances I received included quarterly reporting from the Secretary of State for Defence on the operations, a planned international development strategy which will help rebuild the country after the strikes and the continuation of the diplomatic solution. I repeatedly stressed to the Government how it is crucial that their plans were backed by a strong ground operation orchestrated by opposition forces in Syria. I have reassurance from the Secretary of State for Defence that he will continue to review and improve the ground strategy whilst the strategic aerial campaigns are ongoing.

I sat in the chamber for almost the full 10.5 hours yesterday, and was the last to be called to speak before the closing remarks of the front bench. Due to very strict time limits I did not get to read my full speech, but you can read what I wrote here. You can watch my speech here. I heard impassioned speeches on both sides of the argument yesterday but the two that really stuck with me and had the effect of cementing my views were the speeches by Tim Farron, which eloquently explained how air strikes are the only option to support refugees and by Labour’s Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn, which will go down in history as one of the best speeches in the House of Commons.

It is ultimately important to remember that a few weeks ago one of Britain’s allies were attacked by an unprecedented enemy.  For centuries Britain has taken a lead in the world to help fight tyranny and promote liberty and freedom.  We have a responsibility to support them.  Daesh is the antithesis to everything we hold dear and they must be stopped.  The time is now to ensure that we stand firm against our enemies – we cannot delay any further or risk people being killed on our streets.

One of the repeated arguments against intervention that constituents have raised with me is that our streets will become unsafe if we pursue an aerial campaign. Daesh do not think like this. They will not think twice about slaughtering our citizens in the UK, they believe that our culture, our society and everything that we believe in should be crushed.  Before the vote, even though we had no military involvement in Syria, Daesh were threatening attacks on our country every day. We must therefore take action to stop them.

When women are being raped, children are being sold for the sex trade, gay people are being thrown from roofs and Christians are being crucified we cannot simply watch from afar and say this is someone else's problem.