SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has said last night’s ‘significant parliamentary moment’ was not a vote to turn our back on the people of Syria but a vote not to turn a blind eye to the serious consequences of western military intervention in this civil war.
Mr Durkan, who spoke during the Commons debate and voted against the government’s motion, said:“Last night was a significant parliamentary moment reflecting the lessons of previous mistakes.
Listen to Mr Durkan’s speech here
“The government told us throughout the debate that the motion was itself not a vote for military action, yet they immediately conceded that its defeat was a vote against military intervention in the Syrian civil war as a hasty response to the damnable chemical weapons attacks in Damascus.
“It was clear during the debate that that shallow certitude from the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were no answer to the deep uncertainties that abounded about their intended course of action.
“I voted against the government motion and I also voted against the Labour amendment. While Labour rightly stated that the government motion could be a blank cheque for risky military engagement I was also concerned that their amendment was something of a post-dated blank cheque. Indeed David Cameron and Nick Clegg could well have taken the Labour amendment as their path to the second vote which both the motion and the amendment were providing for.
“None of this obviates the need for the most active concern and effort in response to the ongoing events in Syria.
“I know that MPs who voted on both sides in both votes are appalled by the human suffering being witnessed. They now have to marshal that genuine humanitarian motive into a political and diplomatic will that bears on Assad and his allies more tellingly and with less risk than the ill-defined military intervention that has been canvassed.
“Last night was not a vote to turn our back on the people of Syria or on the wider world. It was a vote not to turn a blind eye to the serious consequences of western military intervention in this civil war in the Middle East and the context of all the other problems and dangers there.”