January 18, 2019

UK's May summons ministers for Syria meeting

13 April 2018, 06:49 | Silvia Roy

UK's May summons ministers for Syria meeting

UK's May summons ministers for Syria meeting

Opposition leaders have demanded a parliamentary vote before any new military action in Syria as Theresa May called an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the growing global crisis.

"Cabinet agreed the Prime Minister should continue to work with allies in the United States and France to co-ordinate an global response".

Mrs May's uncompromising response to the first chemical weapons attack on European soil since the end of the Second World War has won her many plaudits, in particular her remarkable diplomatic achievement in persuading dozens of countries and global institutions to support the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats by way of retaliation.

It was reported earlier Trump mulls joint military action with USA allies, including the United Kingdom and France.

The BBC said May was ready to give the go-ahead for Britain to take part in action led by the United States without seeking prior approval from parliament.

The No 10 statement issued following the Cabinet meeting said Mrs May had again described the attack on Douma as a "shocking and barbaric act" which represented a further erosion of global law.

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Pressure has been growing on Bashar Al-Assad's regime and its Russian backers since an alleged chemical attack on Saturday against the rebel-held town of Douma.

Donald Trump has also threatened military action.

"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place".

Action against the Syrian regime itself was ruled out in a parliamentary vote in 2013, and many MPs have called for a vote before any action this time. "Could be very soon or not so soon at all!" he tweeted, without ruling out attacks.

For an innately cautious politician like Theresa May, how she responds to the Syrian crisis could become the British Prime Minister's defining moment.

The Ministry of Defence refused to comment on a report in the Daily Telegraph that Royal Navy submarines had been ordered into range to launch Tomahawk cruise missile strikes as early as Thursday night.

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May has not confirmed whether Britain will participate directly, but said "the continued use of chemical weapons can not go unchallenged". May is not required by law to consult the House of Commons, but by convention, members of Parliament expect to be consulted.

"And, I would simply say to the Prime Minister: be very careful, because you do not have a majority in Parliament". But beyond stating such abhorrence, it is far from clear the best way to go forward.

"It is worth noting, however, that even if military action is taken before MPs return from their Easter recess, May will nearly certainly have to explain her response to parliament and seek its approval for any longer-term engagement", he adds.

Opposition Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable told the BBC that parliament "can and should be recalled immediately" to hold a vote on the latest possible action. While he condemned Assad for killing "innocent kids in the Douma chemical attack", he also warned against using Syria as a place to flex military muscle.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons tweeted Thursday that a team of its investigators will start work Saturday in Douma.

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