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How West MPs voted on Syria in Commons

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 31, 2013

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Five Westcountry MPs rebelled against Government orders to help defeat the Government over military action in Syria.

In total, some 39 Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians rejected instructions to vote in favour "in principle" after illegal chemical weapons attacks on civilians.

Those that sided with Labour included Tories Richard Drax (South Dorset), Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot) and Sarah Wollaston (Totnes), and Lib Dems Andrew George (St Ives) and Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall).

Mr Rogerson said he was "not convinced" remote missile strikes "will save any lives or improve the situation for Syrian people". He added: "The use of chemical weapons, whether in war between countries or as here by a regime against its own people, is abhorrent to everyone.

"Those responsible must face the full weight of international law as others have done, from Nazi war criminals through to those involved in the Balkan genocides.

"The focus for British foreign policy now must be pursuing diplomatic routes as well as offering humanitarian aid in order to achieve a peaceful resolution as soon as possible."

Mr Rogerson, elected in 2005, supported a "defined objective" to remove Colonel Gaddafi in Libya – but intervention in Syria "will not help those at risk of persecution".

"I respect the views of those colleagues who decided that a response to the use of chemical weapons was the most important consideration, and I know that like me they did not vote they way they did lightly," he added.

Mrs Morris, elected in 2010, said: "The deployment of chemical weapons in Syria is abhorrent and has been rightly condemned. However, I believe military action should only be taken to defend the country and the national interest.

"I do not believe taking military action against Syria meets this test. Indeed, military action offers no guarantee of success and an almost certain loss of life. I therefore decided to vote against the Government motion."

In the Commons on Thursday, Dr Wollaston said to be "wary of war is not to stand idly by" and Mr George warned limited strikes could result in "mission creep".

But other MPs defended their decision to back the Government. George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, said Parliament had "made a mistake".

He went on: "I can understand people's reluctance to commit to military action given our experience in Iraq. However we must never allow our most recent conflict to cloud our judgement about current events.

"The Prime Minister was clear that this would have been a very limited intervention designed solely to prevent the use of chemical weapons. Britain should not turn its back whilst atrocities like this are being committed and I believe Parliament made a mistake."

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