Published On: Mon, Apr 16th, 2018

May on knife-edge as Corbyn uses emergency session to push PM into humiliating defeat

Mrs May is expected to outline her decision to launch the attack against Syria without a vote in Parliament.

She will repeat her claim the airstrikes were carried out to put an end to further chemical weapons suffering and were “in Britain’s national interest”.

But the Labour leader is expected to use the opportunity to voice his anger and carry out a scathing attack against Mrs May’s actions, after he has questioned the legal basis for Britain’s involvement.

The Labour leader said Mrs May should have strived to get approval from the Parliament before initiating UK involvement, alongside the US and France, in the air strikes which were carried out in response to the chemical weapons attack in Douma.

And a source close to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has described the Mrs May’s announcement of the emergency debate as “very odd, panicky and weak”.

Mr Corbyn will call for a War Powers Act which would enshrine in law that the government must seek parliamentary approval before committing to planned military action.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show about the UK air strikes in Syria, the Labour leader said: “I think parliament should have a say in this and I think the Prime Minister could have quite easily done that.

“She took a decision sometime last week that we were going to work with Macron and Trump in order to have an impact on the chemical weapons establishment in Syria.”

He added: “She could have recalled parliament last week – it is only the Prime Minister who can recall parliament – or she could have delayed until tomorrow when parliament returns. There is precedent over previous interventions when parliament has had a vote.”

Mr Corbyn called yesterday for a Commons vote giving a “very strong steer” to the Government to return to the United Nations and try to get a “political process” underway which targets ridding Syria of chemical weapons.

He said: “I think what we need in this country is something more robust like a War Powers Act so governments do get held to account by Parliament for what they do in our name.

“It can be done, it’s hard work and takes patience, but surely that is better than the danger of escalation of this conflict into a proxy war between the US and Russia over the skies of Syria.”

He went on to say that if the UK wants “to get moral high ground around the world” it needs to follow international law for taking military action.

But Dominic Lawson, a British journalist, has criticised Mr Corbyn’s comments over the Syria air strikes, saying that he only opposes the exercise of military power by the UK.

Mr Lawson said: “He regards the West (and therefore Nato) as the bad guys in any given conflict — and thus only our enemies as inherently deserving of support.”

Mrs May is expected to welcome the vote seeking parliamentary approval over military action in the six-hour meeting today.

But on Monday, her ministers stood by her decision to carry out the attack without a parliamentary vote, saying that only the government had the access to military intelligence.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told BBC radio: “Outsourcing that decision to people who do not have the full picture is, I think, quite wrong.”

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