British prime minister David Cameron has urged parliament to vote to approve air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria following months of wrangling more than whether or not adequate opposition Labour lawmakers would back military action.
“The threat is extremely actual,” he said at the start of a 10-hour debate due to culminate in a vote later on Wednesday.
“The query is this — do we operate with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat and do we go right after these terrorists in their heartlands from where they are plotting to kill British men and women, or do we sit back and wait for them?”
However, Mr Cameron faced a possible stiffening of opposition in Labour ranks right after media reports he urged his Conservative Celebration lawmakers at a private meeting late on Tuesday not to vote with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers”.
“This is a contemptible and desperate slur which demeans his office,” Mr Corbyn’s spokesman said, calling for an apology from Mr Cameron.
A spokeswoman for Mr Cameron’s Downing Street workplace did not supply an official comment.
In a additional sign of rising passions over the affair, Labour deputies backing air strikes have turn out to be targets of biting social media attacks by difficult-left activists.
Mr Cameron said he believes British warplanes, which have been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq for much more than a year, need to also be tackling the group in Syria rather than “sub-contract” national security to other countries.
The November 13 IS attacks that killed 130 individuals in Paris gave momentum to Mr Cameron’s push for air strikes, but critics have questioned whether the action would significantly add to international efforts to defeat the group.
Keen to avoid a repeat of a humiliating 2013 parliamentary defeat more than plans to bomb the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Mr Cameron had created it clear he would not bring a vote to parliament if he did not believe he could win it.
That appeared far more likely soon after Mr Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner who says strikes would be ineffective and kill civilians, stated he would enable his lawmakers to vote according to their conscience rather than directing them to comply with his lead.
Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, government-and-politics, united-kingdom, syrian-arab-republic