BRITAIN should have sent a powerful message to the Syrian regime telling it the use of chemical weapons would not be tolerated, according to the MP for Battle.
Greg Barker, a Conservative minister in David Cameron’s government, voted in favour of leaving the door open on military intervention during last week’s vital Commons vote.
The energy and climate change minister supported the Government’s much-debated motion which supported potential military action in Syria if United Nations (UN) weapons inspectors found conclusive evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has sanctioned the use of chemical weapons.
However, the Government was defeated, with 39 Coalition MPs voting against the motion – resulting in a defeat by 285 votes to 272. A second vote mooted for after the publication of UN evidence has now also been ruled out.
Mr Barker explained the reasoning behind his vote and said he had listened carefully to local opinion on the issue.
He said: “I know that many of my constituents have been concerned about possible military action in Syria and I have received a number of emails about this subject over the summer which I have read carefully.
“I agreed with the Prime Minister that there should be a tough response to the appalling and shocking sue of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against innocent civilians.
“However, the Prime Minister was right to put the question of UK military action to Parliament.
“The fact is it was not supported by the House, the Government respects that and will act accordingly.
“Unlike previous governments, David Cameron has shown he respects the House of Commons and places genuine importance on the voice of Parliament.”
His Conservative colleague Amber Rudd, the MP for Hastings and Rye, also voted in support of the Government, although 30 Tories were among those to reject the motion and another 31 did not vote.
The US secretary of state John Kerry says America believes the Syrian government forces were responsible for 1,429 deaths following a chemical attack in Damascus last week. More than 400 of those killed were understood to be children.