“We must stop short of putting British troops in harm’s way in a land where we do not belong and where we cannot be part of the long-term solution”

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Statement by Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, on the Syria vote in the House of Commons: 

I would not hesitate to support military action in Syria if I believed it would help save lives in Britain and make our world a safer place.

But I am not convinced.

 

I do not see how more bombing of Syria, on top of the attacks of the French, Russians and Americans, is going to make our streets safer.

 

All the military experts agree that ISIL will only be defeated by troops on the ground in Syria.

 

The British public have no appetite for a ground war. Nor do any of our Western allies.

 

We must step up our efforts to support local forces with intelligence, monitoring and surveillance.

 

But Iraq has taught us that we must stop short of putting British troops in harm’s way in a land where we do not belong and where we cannot be part of the long-term solution.

 

By joining the bombing campaign, we would only be adding to the awful loss of innocent human lives and the terrible, horrible destruction of the ancient civilisation of Syria, which was begun by Assad.

 

And we may be sowing the seeds for further terror on our streets.

 

I do not believe that David Cameron has offered either a credible, or comprehensive, strategy for war. It is based more on hope than experience. And after Iraq, we cannot make the same mistake in Syria.  

 

ISIL are a truly appalling terrorist group and it is clear that they pose an extremely serious and growing threat, both to the people of Iraq and Syria and, as we have seen in the dreadful terrorist attacks in Paris and on the beaches of Tunisia, to British citizens at home and abroad.

 

Our police and security services have prevented at least seven different attacks from taking place here in Britain so far this year, and there have been over 150 ISIL-related attacks around the world in 2015.  I do not believe that we can turn our backs on this threat and leave the British people vulnerable. 

 

It is a real and ever present danger. We have not experienced this kind of threat to our way of life, freedoms and democracy for 70 years.

 

That’s why I support the extra funding that the Government has announced to both the intelligence services and GCHQ to help meet this threat.

 

Intelligence is part of the key to defeating ISIL.

 

Tory cuts to our armed forces - now at their smallest since the 19th century - do not help, of course. 

 

But we also need to do much more work in our own communities here at home - to challenge extremism in all its forms. To challenge the ISIL perversion of the great religion of Islam.  And to challenge their medieval, savage view of the world.

 

British values of freedom, democracy, equality and opportunity for all regardless, of race, creed, gender and sexual orientation are under threat and we must defend them.

 

But we must stop short of war.

 

I have had hundreds of emails from constituents appealing for a ‘no’ vote. I have spent hours listening to the views of my constituents and Labour Party members. They have spoken with one voice.

 

That is why I shall be voting against bombing Syria.


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