Cameron says we must ‘crush the head of the snake’ by bombing IS in Syria

Many Labour MPs are 'ready to defy' Corbyn

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Screen grab taken from PA Video of Prime Minister David Cameron signing a book of condolence at the French ambassador's residence in Kensington Palace Gardens, London, four days after the atrocities in the French capital that saw 129 people murdered.
The PM signing a book of condolence at the French ambassador’s residence in London after the atrocities in Paris (PA)

Britain must crush the “head of the snake” by bombing IS in Syria, David Cameron declared today as he vowed to personally make the case for airstrikes within days.

In a Commons plea to MPs that raised the prospect of an RAF campaign by Christmas, the PM said it was his “firm conviction” that Britain now extend its bombing campaign beyond Iraq.

He said the Paris Massacre showed there was a “compelling case” for action – and that it was wrong for Britain to expect others to carry the burden, and risks, of defeating IS.

A direct challenge to Jeremy Corbyn

And in a direct challenge to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the PM said Britain would not protect its citizens by “sitting back and wishing things were different”.

Yesterday’s stunning move came just 24 hours after US President Obama issued a thinly veiled dig at Britain by attacking Western countries for not doing enough in the fight against ISIS.

At the G20 in Turkey on Monday, the PM seemed to admit any action was off the agenda by saying “a few extra bombs and missiles won’t transform the situation”.

US President Barack Obama speaking during a news conference at the G20 Summit of world leaders at Antalya in Turkey.
US President Barack Obama speaking during a news conference at the G20 Summit of world leaders at Antalya in Turkey (PA)

But today, Mr Cameron revealed he will write to the powerful Foreign Affairs Select Committee laying out his case for airstrikes in Syria by the end of the month.

Government sources said they hope the letter will be the spark that convinces enough MPs to come forward and promise to back military action if the Government brings it to a vote in Westminster.

David Cameron is still haunted by his humiliating defeat at the hands of Labour in 2013, when Parliament blocked airstrikes against the Assad regime in Syria.

A possible military alliance over Syria

One senior source said yesterday: “A second Commons defeat would threaten Britain’s standing internationally. We have to have the numbers.”

The move came as France and Russia took the first steps towards a possible military alliance over Syria – with the Kremlin ordering the Russian Navy to work with a French naval force heading to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking to MPs today Mr Cameron said it was his “firm conviction” that Britain needed to step up and act against ISIL in Syria – after months of airstrikes on the Iraqi side of the border.

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking about the Paris attacks in the House of Commons, London.
Prime Minister David Cameron speaking about the Paris attacks in the House of Commons (PA)

He said: “We must ask ourselves whether we are really doing all we can be doing – all we should be doing – to deal with the threat that ISIL poses to us directly.

“It is in Syria, in Raqqa, that ISIL has its headquarters, and it is from Raqqa that some of the main threats against this country are planned and orchestrated.

“Raqqa is, if you like, the head of the snake.”

‘The head of the snake’

He added: “I have always said there is a strong case for our doing this; our allies are asking us to do it, and the case for doing it has only grown stronger after the Paris attacks.

“We cannot and should not expect others to carry the burdens, and the risks, of protecting our country.”

Mr Corbyn – a day after suggesting police shouldn’t ‘shoot to kill’ terrorists – welcomed the prospect of a detailed plan but said it had to have support of the international community.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon arrives at the Cabinet Office on Whitehall in London for the Government's Cobra emergency committee called by Prime Minister David Cameron over the terror attacks which killed at least 127 people in Paris last night.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (PA)

Yet Labour MPs lined up to openly defy their leader. Backbencher Mike Gapes praised David Cameron saying he “spoke not just for the government but for the country”.

And outspoken backbencher Ian Austin mocked Jeremy Corbyn’s view that “Britain’s foreign policy has increased the risks to national security”.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon – who earlier this month claimed it was “morally indefensible” not to bomb IS in Syria – will meet MPs from both sides of the House at the start of December in a bid to convince them of the need for action.

Labour MPs ‘ready to defy their peacenik leader’

And Tory backbencher Gerald Howarth told the Sun yesterday that he believed many Labour MPs were ready to defy their peacenik leader Jeremy Corbyn and vote for action.

He said: “What happened in Paris has given the PM impetus that he needs to act and it was interesting to see the number of Labour MPs nodding when he said that it was now time to do so.”

One Shadow Minister told the Sun: “The Government has still got a job to do to convince people there is a long-term strategy. But if anything Jeremy’s words and actions are pushing people towards the Government. Hilary Benn [Shadow Foreign Secretary] will be key to this.”

John Woodcock MP for Barrow & Furness, speaks at the opening session of the Progress annual conference, in central London, as Labour leadership candidates are to make their pitch to activists after the surprise withdrawal of favourite Chuka Umunna from the race.
John Woodcock MP for Barrow & Furness (PA)

John Woodcock, the Labour MP and chair of the party’s defence committee, said: “I think the majority of Labour MPs will want to look at this with a genuinely open mind.”

The cross-party Foreign Affairs Committee two weeks ago said there should be no airstrikes against IS in Syria without a coherent international strategy to defeat the terrorists – and also end the Syrian civil war.

At the time, Committee chair, the Tory MP, Crispin Blunt, said the Government shouldn’t launch airstrikes just to make themselves “feel better”.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivers a speech on his spending review at GCHQ in Cheltenham.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at CWU rally in Manchester Cathedral as the Conservative Party conference continues in the city.

Less than 24 hours after appearing to rule it out

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks in the State Dining Room of 10 Downing Street, London after chairing an emergency Cobra meeting in the wake of a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, which left at least 127 people dead and over 200 injured.

David Cameron calling on Britain to overcome ISIS by showing the same pluck that defeated Hitler