Two weeks ago I voted in the House of Commons in support of extending the UK’s airstrikes against Daesh, the so called Islamic State, into Syrian territory. The decision on which way to vote was the hardest I have made since becoming an MP and it was not made lightly. I listened to both sides of the argument in the debate from 11.30am until 10pm as well as taking on board all of the communications from my constituents, both for and against, and, after much soul searching and with a heavy heart I voted in the Aye lobby.
First and foremost it is a lawful response because of UN Resolution 2249. This resolution, unlike others in the past, was not vetoed by any member of the Security Council or the other Permanent members, Russia, China, France and the United States a key factor in my decision.
The atrocities in Paris over a month ago demanded a robust response in support of our allies, especially France, as we are only too well aware that attack could have been in any city in the UK. We have been flying strategic missions against Daesh in Iraq which have forced them to retreat and it is important we continue to degrade, disable and ultimately destroy this murderous terrorist organisation. Furthermore the UK’s airstrike capability is second to none with its precision, which means our involvement minimises the possibility of civilian casualties.
The Vienna Peace Talks are ongoing and are showing a way forward towards a negotiated peace deal and a new Government in Syria. This shows the commitment to rebuilding after the fighting is over, something which we have lacked in other conflicts, but not this time.
The air strikes on Daesh controlled Syrian soil, which started hours after the resounding yes vote in the House of Commons, targeted key positions of strategic and financial importance to Daesh. Since this terrorist organisation has entrenched itself in the Middle East one of their main sources of income has been the sale of natural resources such as Oil and Gas and the first successful strikes were against al-Omar oil field, the largest in Syria, a key financial asset to the funding of their terrorist activities.
I know there are those who say our missions over Syria will increase the terrorist threat here but all I can say is the threat level has been SEVERE for some considerable time, which means a terrorist attack is highly likely. In fact seven terrorist attacks on the UK have been thwarted this year already.
This Government will continue to invest in our Security Services to keep us safe but each one of us should also be vigilant and report anything untoward to the authorities.
This article was originally written for The Burton Mail.