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Syria vote: Havering MPs split three ways over possibility of UK military intervention

PUBLISHED: 11:23 30 August 2013 | UPDATED: 11:23 30 August 2013

Dame Angela Watkinson: Voted in favour of the government's motion

Dame Angela Watkinson: Voted in favour of the government's motion

Archant

Last night’s controversial Commons debate divided Havering MPs three ways over the possibility of British military action in Syria.

The government’s motion not to rule out intervention was defeated by 13 votes, despite a three-line whip.

Tory Dame Angela Watkinson, Hornchurch and Upminster MP, voted in favour of it – but admitted she had “grave reservations” about the possibility of military action.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell abstained from the vote, but said he would have opposed it had it been worded more strongly.

And Jon Cruddas, Rainham’s Labour MP, voted against the motion, but supported his party’s amendment – which was also defeated.

Dame Angela told the Recorder: “The motion was not to take military action.

“[Its core] was to take no action until the weapons inspectors had reported their findings to the UN Security Council.

“The UN would have made a recommendation and, if that was for military action, parliament would have had another debate and vote on whether to be part of it.

“I have grave reservations about military action to destroy the chemical weapon stores in Syria. It is not clear how that could be achieved effectively without the risk of more casualties or escalation.”

She added the UK’s best course of action would be to help provide food, shelter and medical aid to Syrian civilians.

Mr Rosindell said he had planned to vote against the motion, but had abstained because of a last-minute rewrite.

“I don’t believe we should be heading into another conflict at this stage,” he said, branding the motion “premature”.

But he added: “The prime minister convinced me not to vote against the government, but I wasn’t prepared to put my name to the idea of us entering a civil war.

“I would have voted against had he not changed the motion.

“The plan was for there to be a motion to authorise military action. [But when the motion reached Parliament] it had been substantially altered so there’d be another vote on military action if that was proposed.”

Last night’s result means that vote will not take place.

Mr Cruddas could not be immediately contacted for comment.


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