Some constituents will want to know how I voted on Syria. The answer is that I voted with the Government. The issue is really complicated but the bottom line is I think we must play our part in an international effort to deter the Assad regime from further chemical attacks. It was not a straightforward decision. I am someone who is very cautious about intervening in the affairs of another country unless there are strong humanitarian interests or a clear risk to our national interest or security. I am also very aware of the long shadow thrown by the process which took us to war in Iraq. It was very evident last night in the House of Commons. In the case of Syria, there are no good options. And that includes doing nothing if the consequence of inaction is to send a signal that it is ok to continue breaking the taboo on chemical weapons. Our intelligence services have made it clear that we have high levels of certainty that the regime has used chemical weapons on 14 occasions. It is " highly likely" that they were responsible for the repugnant attack which I am sure horrified us all. I wanted Parliament to send a united message of condemnation. We ended up reflecting public opinion that did not want to see military action. It was not a bad night for British democracy. Time will tell what it means for innocent Syrian civilians, but it is hard to be optimistic.
- 2 Sep 2013