It does not need to be said that Daesh is a truly appalling terrorist group and it is clear that they pose an extremely serious and growing threat, both to the people of Iraq and Syria, across North Africa and as we saw in the dreadful terrorist attack in Paris, to people worldwide. Indeed, there have been over 150 Daesh-related attacks around the world this year, and our police and security services have prevented at least six different attacks from taking place here in Britain so far this year.
There is, of course, no easy solution to the threat Daesh pose and Britain cannot solve these problems alone. I do not believe that we should turn our back on this threat, and that means working internationally to cut Daesh's resources, as well as contributing to their military defeat.
I believe the Prime Minister must now make every effort to work internationally to agree a route to peace in Syria. It will be crucial that any such plan seeks to safeguard civilians, increase humanitarian aid and bring security to the long-suffering Syrian people. This should also look at the possibility of creating ‘safe zones’ in Syria and an international agreement to share Syrian refugees.
The date of the debate has only just been set, and it is agreed for the 2nd December. For many months I have been booked to travel to South Africa from the 28th November to the 3rd December to attend the 'Global TB Summit' in Cape Town. At this meeting I will be part of an international group of nearly 60 countries working to combat Global TB a disease which affects millions of the most vulnerable. I am unable to renege on my commitment to the 'Global TB Caucus' to attend this event, and indeed it would be impossible for me to return to the UK to vote without serious financial cost to the charity.
There is no more important decision a country can take than to commit our armed forces to military action and I can assure you this is not a decision that I, or any Member of Parliament, would take lightly. I do believe that my colleagues in the House of Commons will treat this decision with the respect it is due, and I will follow the debate closely.
It is important that we are clear about the objectives of any action and how they are part of a wider plan for peace. I am not yet convinced that the most rigorous requirements for military action have yet been met, and so I do not think that at the moment British 'airstrikes' in Syria will achieve the desired results.
1st December 2015