Halifax MP votes against air strikes

RAF warplanes are poised to launch air strikes against Islamic State jihadists after Parliament gave the green light for military action.

Saturday, 27th September 2014, 8:30 am
Halifax MP Linda Riordan

At the end of of a six-and-half hour Commons debate, MPs voted by 524 to 43 - a majority of 481 - to endorse attacks on the militants in Iraq in support of the United States-led coalition, with Labour backing the Government motion.

Halifax MP Linda Riordan, along with five other Yorkshire MPs voted against air strikes.

Tweeting after the debate she said: “Heading back to Halifax after parliament debate on Iraq air strikes. I voted against military action. Bombing will only create more problems.”

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The vote clears the way for RAF Tornado GR4 fighter bombers stationed in Cyprus to begin combat operations as soon as suitable targets are identified.

Labour MP Rushanara Ali dramatically resigned from the party’s front bench in order to abstain in the vote.

Opening the debate, Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs - meeting in emergency session - that Britain had a “duty” to join the military campaign as IS posed a direct threat to the country.

But despite the overwhelming majority in favour of military action, there were concerns on all sides of the House that - 11 years after the invasion of Iraq - Britain was again embarking on military action in the Middle East.

At the same time, there was criticism from both Conservative and Labour MPs that UK air strikes were being restricted to Iraq and that IS targets in Syria - the movement’s birthplace - were excluded.

Mr Cameron said the motion had been limited to Iraq in order to secure cross-party consensus and avoid a repeat of last year’s damaging Commons defeat when Labour combined with Tory and Liberal Democrat rebels to block air strikes against the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad.

However Defence Secretary Michael Fallon later indicated that the Government may well eventually have to come back to the House again to seek support for extending air strikes into Syria.

The timing of the first RAF bombing raids will depend upon when suitable targets can be identified. The United States has been carrying out air strikes in northern Iraq since mid-August and most of the obvious targets have already been hit.

The strikes are expected to be conducted by the six Tornado GR4s which have been based at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus since last month where they have been deployed in a reconnaissance role.