The UK in Iraq - Simon Hughes

The UK in Iraq

Parliament was recalled on Friday 26th September so MPs could decide whether or not the UK should join in airstrikes against the ISIL terror group.

At the end of the afternoon, parliament voted to support the motion for limited intervention contained to Iraq only, without combat troops on the ground. This will not extend to Syria, and proceeds on the basis that we have had a formal request to intervene by the legitimate democratic government of Iraq.

The Labour Party, as the official opposition, made clear that they shared exactly the view of the government which was put in the House by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Today the vote was not to attack Iraq, but to defend Iraq. The Muslim Prime Minister of Iraq asked for our help. and a number of Muslim countries are already part of the coalition to defeat ISIL. The attack on ISIL is led in the region by forces from the region and because the UK will be in a supportive role providing humanitarian support, reconnaissance and some air strikes together with other countries.

Air strikes in Syria would be beyond the scope of Friday's motion and would require a further debate and vote in Parliament.

ISIL are a murderous and fanatical organisation which is slaughtering innocent people regardless of their ethnicity or their religion. ISIL actively also wants to do us harm in this country. There is a duty to protect our own people and our own country as well as innocent civilians from the Sunni, Shia, Christian, Yazidi and other faith communities and people from Iraqi, Kurdish and other backgrounds.

It is very important that we continue to support the enormous humanitarian efforts to help the millions of people who have fled ISIL and are now living in appalling conditions. To this end, the Department for International Development (DFID) is leading the UK’s humanitarian response and getting life-saving aid to people across northern and central Iraq who have fled ISIL terrorists. The UK has delivered £23 million of aid so far.

These issues of war and peace and the use of military action are always controversial not least within our Muslim communities here in London. Ideally, military action would be unnecessary, but ISIL will not be stopped by logic, rational argument and diplomacy alone. Today’s decision and the action that will follow it are the least worst option to try to reduce death and conflict in Iraq.