19 APR 2018


Kent Messenger Column - 19-04-18 

For the second time in my period of office as MP for Maidstone & The Weald, we are amidst a debate about the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against its own people in Syria.

UK military intervention was first considered in August 2013, when (unusually) the PM chose to put the issue to Parliament. I supported taking action on that occasion, but the motion was narrowly voted down.

The use of chemical weapons is a severe breach of international law and a barbaric and brutal crime against humanity. History has shown, time and time again, that when tyrants go unopposed in their heinous actions, they go on to repeat and escalate their evil in a veil of assumed immunity.

This time our PM, having consulted with her Cabinet and taken legal advice from the Attorney General and others, used her prerogative powers to take specific and measured action to try and prevent further atrocities taking place. The intervention was not about regime change but a punishment that will not be repeated unless there are further abominations.

In electing the Prime Minister, we confer on that person the power to take certain critical decisions affecting national security and foreign policy, if she deems it appropriate, under the circumstances. Indeed we expect our leaders to be decisive and be able to act. And whilst some are quick to complain about their perceived abuse of democracy, they cannot possibly know the detailed and sensitive intelligence, the threats or the urgency of a given situation.

The test for me is this: If you see a powerful bully meting out abuse on his neighbour, do you turn a cheek and walk away, or do you summon support and deal with the issue? The latter is harder, it needs courage and bravery, and may cause you some injury too. It is a question we must all ask ourselves.

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