Jeremy Quin MP: Why I backed air strikes

Jeremy Quin MP
Jeremy Quin MP

In his weekly column for the County Times, Horsham MP Jeremy Quin explains why he supported the controversial plan for air strikes in Syria:

Two qualities that the public like to see in politicians have been on display in the last week. They are contradictory.

We admire someone who in the teeth of all opposition stands up for what they believe. One can have a sneaking admiration for the manner of Jeremy Corbyn’s dogged opposition to RAF engagement in Syria.

He has long been a convinced pacifist and remains one, despite all the difficulties this may entail.

The decision on whether to extend the military operation is the hardest this Parliament has so far faced.

However having listened closely to the debate I believe the Prime Minister is right and, however principled his opposition, Mr Corbyn is wrong.

Extending RAF air strikes from the ongoing Iraq campaign into Syria is militarily logical. It makes us no more of a target for ISIL than, sadly, we already are.

It helps reduce their effectiveness in waging war on us and their murderous internal campaign, it diminishes the capability of a brutal regime.

There are risks associated and it will only work long term with the support of allies inside and outside of Syria and a willingness to provide vastly more aid for reconstruction.

However in my mind I believe we should act now to do everything we can to diminish the prospect of an ISIL outrage in the UK, not be forced to react to one.

In joining the coalition we support and can help build the moderate, non-regime, opposition to ISIL, who need our help now.

We will be succouring our allies in the Middle East and acting as the UK has always acted in support of the UN and alongside our closest international friends.

A broad agreement for a Syrian Peace is ultimately achievable but we need to help create the conditions first.

Other qualities were displayed when George Osborne set out his ‘Autumn Statement’.

Having actively campaigned and joined an open letter to the Prime Minister urging the introduction of fairer funding for schools I was delighted to hear confirmation that this is exactly what we will be getting: it is great news for West Sussex schools.

There was also good news on pre-schools and local police.

While ‘sticking to your guns’ on occasion can be admirable, listening to a debate, to my mind, makes sense.

As a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee I questioned witnesses and closely examined the evidence for our independent report, published last month, on the Government’s tax credit reforms.

Having done so, while remaining an advocate of reform, I supported our unanimous conclusion that these reforms were going ‘too far, too fast’.

A stronger economy gave the Chancellor flexibility in the Autumn Statement which he could have used in a number of ways.

He used it to pare back the scope of his reforms to tax credits.

This does not mean that the necessary reforms to welfare are over, far from it, but in being prepared to listen, reflect and be flexible I think the Chancellor got it right.

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