I have considered the arguments, including those you put forward, very carefully and find this a difficult vote given its profound consequences. I have however come to the clear conclusion that I will be supporting the Prime Minister’s proposals to extend military action against Daesh to Syria.
I’m sure you will agree that the situation in Syria and Iraq is one of the most terrible in world at the moment. Parts of both countries are under Daesh control, which involves people being mutilated, stoned and beheaded for such “crimes” as being homosexual or not conforming to the strict interpretation of the Koran favoured by Daesh.
As well as being an evil regime, Daesh poses an immediate threat to the UK and to British citizens at home and abroad as the Tunisia and Paris attacks clearly illustrate. Daesh want to recruit Muslims from the UK to travel to Iraq and Syria to bolster their brutal regime and to return to the West to carry out terrorist attacks. Through powerful social media campaigns, Daesh also want to recruit home-grown terrorists to carry out atrocities in the UK.
There is no question of “negotiating” with Daesh. Daesh have no interest in negotiating with Britain. Their only interest is wiping out our way of life and replacing it with an Islamic State. On 20 November 2015 the UN Security Council unanimously urged all UN members states with the capacity to take “all necessary measures” in Daesh controlled territory Iraq and Syria, describing Daesh as posing “a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security”.
The UK is already bombing Daesh in Iraq, after the House of Commons voted 524-43 in favour last year. Daesh control territory across the Iraqi / Syrian border and in my view there is no compelling case for stopping our activity at a border that Daesh themselves do not recognise. The aims of bombing Daesh in both locations – destroying terrorists who intend to do harm to Britain and our allies, their weapons and their training camps – are the same.
I believe that we must do what we reasonably can to degrade Daesh. I accept that airstrikes against Daesh in Syria will not destroy Daesh entirely, nor will they end the Syrian civil war. But airstrikes will severely impede Daesh. I will therefore be voting for the UK to join our US, French and Middle Eastern allies in carrying out airstrikes against Daesh across all of the territory they control, including Syria.
On the wider question of ending the civil war in Syria, the Prime Minister has set out robust proposals which you can see here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151126/debtext/151126-0001.htm#15112625000002.
It is clear that a significant diplomatic and humanitarian effort will be required. The UK is already heavily involved in these efforts. We are the second biggest provider of aid to the region behind the USA, having spent over £1 billion providing support to refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict.
In addition to asylum seekers from the region, the UK is committed to taking 20,000 Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. Around 1,000 will arrive in the UK by Christmas. Kingston was the first Borough to offer to take 50 Syrian refugees (an offer made last October – well before the widespread calls to do so after the harrowing image of the drowned toddler Aylan) and we are expecting to welcome the first arrivals here in January.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me about this most important issue. I am sorry that our views differ on this subject, but I can assure you that I have given it the most careful attention before reaching my decision.
James Berry MP
Member of Parliament for Kingston & Surbiton
Just a couple of thoughts:
- I would be interested to know if this is a generic letter for those Conservative MPs backing the government motion. Please leave a comment.
- MP’s are supposed to be representing their constituents views, so it would be interesting to know the numbers of people who contacted their MP that agreed with bombing Syria compared to those who disagreed with bombing and then compare the result to the way that their MP voted.