Market Rasen’s MP Sir Edward Leigh has blasted the government for helping cause the crisis with ISIS in the Middle East.
He also attacked Coalition defence cuts for hampering Britain’s response.
Yet, “with a heavy heart and full of foreboding” he voted with the government to support the airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.
In Friday’s parliamentary debate, Sir Edward accused the Prime Minister of misplacing his trust in the Iraqi army.
“The problem is that, having caused this mess in Iraq, We armed the Iraqi army, they ran away and now ISIL has their arms.”
The veteran MP also said: “In our zealous liberalism, we have encouraged revolutions across the Middle East and then been profoundly shocked when the forces that we have helped to unleash have turned against us. In that sense, the British government are indirectly culpable in fostering the conditions for jihadism to thrive in Iraq and Syria.”
Sir Edward also said of Syrian President Assad “brutal as he is, Assad is a natural ally against jihadism,” who had protected religious and ethnic minorities.
He then contrasted how the Syrian president is now seen as a lesser evil compared with a year ago when PM David Cameron sought to bomb him.
“We want Syria to be a democratic, modern country, and we want the Syrian free forces to win this battle, but a year ago we were asked in this House of Commons to bomb Assad and now we are being asked to stand on our heads. I have heard of being asked to bomb our opponents and support our friends, but what we are doing now in Syria is extraordinary and makes no sense.”
Sir Edward said it made no sense to just bomb Iraq when there is no longer an effective border with Syria. He also questioned how long the conflict might last, noting Britain only has “a few planes and they are based a long way away.”
“We were once told that never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few, but now never have so few been asked by so many to achieve so much with no clear aim in sight.”
IS is winning not because of superior arms but because the Iraqi government is “corrupt and their army, which we armed, ran away.”
Sir Edward said Britain seeks to play its role as a leading nation “but if we want to act with a big stick in the world, we must wield the means. Yet what have we been doing with the armed forces over the past four years and how many planes have we got to bomb ISIL. What difference are we going to make?”
“These are the realities, which we all know, but we are where we are. We caused this mess and we should apologise to the region for it. We have no idea where this will end. We have no idea what our bombing campaign will achieve or how long it will take. But here’s the rub, we caused this mess.”
But before sitting down, Sir Edward gave a personal reflection on the crisis, stemming from his many visits to the region, saying he couldn’t “walk away on the other side of the road from those desperate women I talked to in Mosul province.”
The Gainsborough MP had recalled earlier how women were “losing husbands, sons and daughters to kidnapping” courtesy of Islamic State.
Thus, despite “severe doubts about what this will achieve, and with a heavy heart and foreboding, I will vote for this motion tonight.”