Andrew Smith MP

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Commons vote on further intervention in Syria

Having paid close attention to the arguments on both sides and the view of my constituents, today I will be voting against the government’s motion on British air strikes in Syria.

I believe that we should do all we can to help bring about peace and to aid those who have been forced to flee their homes.

I am concerned that, learning from previous interventions, we do everything we can to make sure that any action we take will make matters better and not worse, is part of a credible strategy for peace and security and is legitimate in international law. I am not persuaded that the UK joining air strikes presently meets these tests, and will vote against them in the Commons motion today.

I welcome the recent United Nations resolution. The UN has a crucial role to play in bringing together regional and international powers to make progress towards diplomatic and political agreement on the future for Syria, which, though obviously difficult, is the only route to security for the Syrian people. It is crucial that there are clear and agreed plans on working towards a future for Syria which has the confidence of its people, including minorities such as the Kurds and Alawites. I would like to see the UN taking a much more active role in this.

I also favour giving more support, both diplomatic and practical, to the Kurdish defence forces, who have shown themselves to be the most effective at pushing Daesh back. I also believe that a UN-mandated establishment of safe zones in Syria would merit international support as part of a series of steps towards a durable settlement.

I strongly support aid for the refugees, whether in Syria itself, in neighbouring countries or those who have fled to Europe.

We also clearly have to do more to tackle the underlying causes of extreme jihadism and the perversion of Islam which it represents, including the dangerous attraction it has for some disaffected young people.

The situation in Syria is complex and dangerous. This requires a very careful and well thought-through response by the international community, and there is a lot more to do to get a credible strategy in place.

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