Prime Minister David Cameron continued to build a case for Britain launching air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria, telling a packed House of Commons on Thursday that doing nothing will make Britain more a target for international terrorists.
Britain, he said, could not “outsource” its security to allies since it already faced the threat of mass casualties from IS.
Britain’s current threat level from international terrorism is set at “severe”, which means an attack is highly likely.
Keen to avoid mistakes of the past -- particularly Britain’s controversial intervention in the Iraq conflict during the Tony Blair government -- Cameron is seeking a political consensus, and legal and other advice before putting the decision to vote in the House of Commons next week.
Cameron said in a statement to Parliament: “We face a fundamental threat to our security.” Britain, he added, could not wait for a political solution in Syria, and doing nothing “could make the UK more of a target for ISIL attacks”.
He said: “That bomb in Paris, that could have been London. If they had their way, it would be London. I can’t stand here and say we are safe from all these threats. We are not. I can’t stand here either and say we will remove the threat through the action that we take.”
“But do I stand here with advice behind me that taking action will reduce and degrade that threat over time? Absolutely, and I have examined my conscience and that’s what it is telling me.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sought assurances that Britain will not be dragged into a ground war: “The question must now be whether extending the UK bombing from Iraq to Syria is likely to reduce, or increase, that threat and whether it will counter, or spread, the terror campaign ISIS is waging in the Middle East.”