April 11, 2018 / 4:04 PM / 6 months ago

Parliament should have say on military action in Syria, says Corbyn

LONDON (Reuters) - The British parliament should be given a say on any military action Prime Minister Theresa May wants to take in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned of imminent military action in Syria in response to an attack on Saturday in which the World Health Organisation said 43 people died from symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals.

May has faced calls to join the United States in any military action. But she has not committed to doing so nor ruled the option out.

On Wednesday she said all the indications were that the Syrian authorities were responsible for the attack, and that she was working with allies on how to hold those responsible to account.

“Parliament should always be given a say on military action,” Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner, told the BBC when asked about Syria.

“Obviously the situation is very serious, obviously there has to be, now, a demand for a political process to end the war in Syria. We cannot risk an escalation even further than it’s gone already.” 

May is not bound by law to seek parliamentary approval for offensive military action, but recent interventions in Libya and Iraq have been put to a vote. Many now believe lawmakers should always have a vote before the government takes military action.

Corbyn said countries involved should get around a negotiating table to find an end to the civil war by political means.

“What happened last weekend was terrible. What we don’t want is bombardment which leads to escalation and leads to a hot war between Russia and America over the skies of Syria,” he said.

Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Richard Balmforth

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