A number of constituents have got in touch with me to share their views on whether the UK should take part in military action against ISIL in Syria. The scenes we are seeing across the Middle East are very worrying indeed and I think it is important that we keep our options open with this issue so that we can do all we can to protect the UK and British citizens.
My own view is that we must do all we can globally to stop the rise of ISIL, and that we must also pursue transition in Syria, away from the barbaric regime of Assad. It is artificial to imagine that ISIL stops pursuing its horrific agenda simply because of an international border, and indeed we know that their headquarters are in Raqqa. If we are committed to damaging ISIL, we must surely do it wherever we find them. It is illogical for us to be involved in attacking ISIL in Iraq, but not in its strongest hold. With that as our over-riding priority, I would support a proposal, if it were the right one, to extend our current military action to Syria. Any plan must include tackling ISIL’s funding, and also looking at how we support rebuilding the state of Syria in the long term.
However, peace is a process, not an event, and I agree it cannot be achieved through a military assault on ISIL alone. The Prime Minister’s approach is based on the counter-extremism strategy to prevent attacks at home, the diplomatic and political process to work with our allies, humanitarian support and longer-term stabilisation, as well as military action. Britain has so far given over £1.1 billion, surpassed only by the USA, and would contribute at least another £1 billion for post-conflict reconstruction to support a new Syrian Government when they emerge.
Ministers are also promoting an inclusive, sovereign and democratic Iraq that can unite the country and push back ISIL’s advances and restore stability and security across the country, and are working with like-minded countries to tackle the broader threat that ISIL poses to the region and other countries around the world.
I will certainly keep the comments of those who have contacted me in mind when Parliament debates military action in Syria on Wednesday.