Britain could help America bomb Syria without MPs' approval, Boris Johnson suggests

Eldorar Alshamia Editor | 27 April, 2017
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Written by: Josh May
Boris Johnson has said it would be "very difficult" for the UK to decline a request to join military action against the Assad regime if it used chemical weapons again in the future.

The Foreign Secretary also suggested the Government could authorise airstrikes without the approval of Parliament.

The US bombed a Syrian regime airfield earlier this month in retaliation for a sarin gas attack which killed scores of civilians, including children.

Though the Syrian government denies responsibility for the chemical deployment, Mr Johnson said the Assad regime was "unquestionably" responsible for it.

Asked whether he could envisage the UK joining a similar military operation in the future, he replied that it would be "difficult to say no".  

He told Radio 4’s Today programme: "If the United States has a proposal to have some sort of action in response to a chemical weapons attack and if they come to us and ask for our support… it would in my view – and I know this is also the view of the Prime Minister – be very difficult for us to say no."

The option of a military response against Assad for a previous chemical weapons attack was blocked when MPs voted it down in 2013.

Mr Johnson indicated that the Government would not necessarily seek the consent of the Commons if a request for intervention was made by the US.

"That [whether MPs’ approval is needed] needs to be tested but I think it would be very difficult for us to say no," he said.

"How exactly we were able to implement that would be for the Government, for the Prime Minister to decide.

"But if the Americans were once again to be forced by the actions of the Assad regime – and don’t forget it was Assad who unleashed murder upon his own citizens with weapons that were banned almost 100 years ago – if the Americans choose to act again and they ask us to help, as I say, I think it would be very difficult for us to say no."

The UK is already engaged in airstrikes against so-called Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposed the military operations against IS, and also criticised the US for its airstrike against the Assad regime three weeks ago.

At the weekend he indicated he would seek to suspend the bombing campaign against IS if he became prime minister after 8 June.

"The bombing campaign has killed a large number of civilians, many of whom were virtually prisoners of Isis, so you’ve got to think about these things," he said.

"I want us to say ‘listen, let’s get people around the table quickly’ and a way of achieving that: suspend the strikes? Possibly.

"The point has to be to bring about a political solution. All wars end with a political solution, let’s go to that place as quickly as we can."