Legal basis for British strikes in Syria debatable: Opposition leader Corbyn

Lady Farrington of Ribbleton
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Labour peer – obituary
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16 April, 2018

"She took a decision sometime last week that she was going to work with Macron and Trump in order to have an attack on the chemical weapons establishment in Syria". Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the air strikes were created to deter Bashar al-Assad's regime and others around the world from using chemical weapons.

'Where is the legal basis for this?' he said.

'If we could get to a process in the United Nations where you get to a ceasefire, you get to a political solution, you then may well get to a situation where there could be a United Nations force established to enforce that ceasefire.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said taking military action against the Assad regime had been the "wrong thing to do".

Mr Corbyn said Parliament should have been given a vote ahead of the strikes.

'Not urgent cases. Clearly not when we are under attack or the Prime Minister has been kidnapped, or anything like that'.

The prime minister's office said she had spoken to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia; Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan; German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers of Italy, Australia and Canada about the strikes.

Often when the British government decides on military action, the opposition offers its full support.

He told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "There is no proposal on the table at the moment for further attacks because so far - thank heavens - the Assad regime has not been so foolish to launch another chemical weapons attack".

The Labour leader's critics have questioned the plausibility of achieving a diplomatic solution, particularly one backed by the UN Security Council, in which Russian Federation has repeatedly used its veto in defence of the Syrian regime.

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Meanwhile global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW inspectors arrived in Syria Saturday and were due to try to reach the site of a suspected poison attack in the Syrian town of Douma in eastern Ghouta.

Mrs May insisted the decision to deploy British cruise missiles in response to the chemical attack in Douma was "both right and legal".

"I know that the Speaker tends to allow virtually everybody who wants to do make their point to ask a question to intervene in such matters, to have their say", Mr Johnson said.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have given the action their full support, secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said.

"May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump", he said on Saturday.

But 46% still believed she was better than Mr Corbyn on dealing with an worldwide crisis, with just 26% backing the Labour leader.

Mr Johnson did not rule out further airstrikes when pressed on what would happen if Syria's Bashar al Assad used chemical weapons again.

The UK's National Security Adviser, Sir Mark Sedwill, also set out further information about why the Government believed Russian Federation was responsible, saying only it had the "technical means, operational experience and the motive to carry out the attack".

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon described the legal position as "thin", while BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg noted that the United Kingdom is one of the few countries that tries to use humanitarian arguments to justify military action and most worldwide lawyers don't accept the contention.


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