After Syria strikes, Britain's May to face critical parliament

By REUTERS
April 16, 2018 00:32
1 minute read.
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LONDON - British Prime Minister Theresa May will face criticism on Monday for bypassing parliament to join weekend air strikes against Syria, with some lawmakers calling for a potentially damaging vote on her future strategy.

May, who has regained confidence after winning support for her tough stance on Syria and Russia, will make a statement to parliament on her decision to join the United States and France in Saturday's strikes in retaliation for a suspected gas attack.

She will repeat Saturday's assertion that Britain was "confident in our own assessment that the Syrian regime was highly likely responsible" and that it could not wait "to alleviate further humanitarian suffering caused by chemical weapons attacks," according to excerpts of her speech.

But she will be grilled over why she broke with a convention to seek parliamentary approval for the action, a decision that she and her ministers say was driven by the need to act quickly.

Much of the criticism will come from opposition lawmakers, but the prime minister may also have to work hard to defend her speed of action to members of her own Conservative Party who had wanted parliament recalled.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, has questioned the legal basis for Britain's involvement.

"She could have recalled parliament last week ... or she could have delayed until tomorrow, when parliament returns," Corbyn, a veteran peace campaigner, said on Sunday.

"I think what we need in this country is something more robust, like a War Powers Act, so governments do get held to account by parliament for what they do in our name," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

Britain has said there are no plans for future strikes against Syria, but foreign minister Boris Johnson warned President Bashar al-Assad that all options would be considered if chemical weapons were used against Syrians again.

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