Sir Edward abstains in vote on action in Syria

The MP for Gainsborough, Sir Edward Leigh, abstained from voting against the use of military action by the UK in Syria.

Prime Minister David Cameron recalled MPs from their summer holidays for the vote in Parliament after an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian capital of Damascus by President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Sir Edward Leigh

Sir Edward Leigh

The government’s motion was in support of military action in Syria if backed by evidence from United Nations weapons inspectors who are currently in the Middle East.

The motion, however, was defeated by 285-272, ruling out the possibility of joining strikes led by the United States.

Despite abstaining Sir Edward said in Parliament: “This has been a great two days for Parliament; I think we have won.

“This time yesterday [Wednesday] morning, the motion would have been used to justify war, perhaps this very weekend.

“War is not going to happen.

“The Prime Minister has listened to his Back Benchers. We made it perfectly clear to our Whips yesterday afternoon that we were not prepared to vote for any motion that justified war, and so the Prime Minister has offered us another motion.”

Sir Edward had previously voted against the Iraq War in 2003 and was adamant in his speech to the House of Commons that he would vote against a war in Syria.

“If there is a second vote, I will definitely vote against,” Sir Edward continued. “But I do not believe there will ever be a second vote, because I do not believe that the parliamentary arithmetic stacks up.

“It does not stack up because MPs are doing their job and listening to what the public want, and the voice of the public is completely clear: they do not want war.

“They are scarred by what went on in Iraq.

“We were lied to in Parliament and we are not going to go down that route again.”

Sir Edward also questioned why the UK would want to get involved in the Syrian crisis.

“Why is it any of our business? Has Syria ever been a colony? Has it ever been in our sphere of interest? Has it ever posed the remotest threat to the British people?

“Our job in Parliament is to look after our own people.

“Our economy is not in very good shape. Neither are our social services, schools or hospitals.

“It is our job to think about problems here. I am told that we are burying our heads in the sand, I would ask: are there anguished debates in other Parliaments all over Europe about whether to bomb Syria?”