Burnley MP votes against Syria action

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has explained why he voted against the Government’s plan to join a military intervention in Syria.

The Government motion was defeated in a House of Commons vote by 285 to 272, ruling out joining US-led strikes.

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a debate on Syria in the House of Commons

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a debate on Syria in the House of Commons

Mr Birtwistle revealed he had received around 140 emails from Burnley constituents urging him to vote against the motion, and around 100 since thanking him for his decision.

The Lib Dem MP, a member of the Coalition Government, said: “I was on my holidays but I travelled back to London for the vote because I felt strongly that we should not intervene in Syria in the current climate for a number of reasons.”

Chief among these was Mr Birtwistle’s concern over a “war creep” scenario and the uncertain spectre of “regime change”.

He said: “There are too many loose ends at the moment. As soon as you push the button to go it is then very difficult to push the button to stop. There is also the question of what is proportionate and connected to that is the question of regime change.

“Basically I feel we should not do anything until there is a United Nations mandate. The situation cannot go on as it is but the UN needs to do more to help resolve the crisis.”

The PM’s call for a military response in Syria followed a suspected chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on August 21st, in which hundreds of people are reported to have died.