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Syria crisis: MPs 'right to reject military action' - BBC poll

  • 2 September 2013
  • From the section UK
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Almost three-quarters of people believe MPs were right to reject UK military action in Syria, a poll commissioned by the BBC has suggested.

The poll also suggested 72% did not think the move would damage the UK-US relationship - and two-thirds said they would not care if it did.

ICM Research spoke to 1,000 adults in England, Scotland and Wales by telephone between Friday and Monday.

Downing Street has said there will be no second Parliamentary vote on Syria.

The government lost last week's Commons vote on supporting, in principle, military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

'Firmed' opinion

The BBC poll suggested 71% of people thought Parliament made the right decision.

By a small margin, a greater proportion of men - 72% - thought MPs made the right decision than women, where 70% agreed.

The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said the BBC poll appeared to suggest that public opinion had "firmed up" against any military action in Syria.

He said that underlined the difficulty Prime Minister David Cameron had in trying to bring any debate back to Parliament.

BBC poll results on Syria military action

Almost half of people questioned - 49% - thought the vote would hurt Britain's international reputation, with 16% believing it would hurt the country's reputation a lot.

But 44% thought it would not make any difference.

More than two thirds - 67% - thought the so-called "special relationship" between the UK and the US was not relevant in the modern age.

Those aged under 35 appeared a bit more concerned than most about the UK's standing, with 57% agreeing the country's reputation would be damaged.

BBC poll results on Syria military action

Voters appeared split on their opinion of the way the prime minister was handling the situation, with 42% disapproving and 40% approving it, giving him a net approval rating of -2.

Labour leader Ed Miliband had what was known as a "net approval rating" of -6 for his handling of the issue, with 33% of people approving of how he conducted himself and 39% having the opposite view.

However, the figures were significantly better than their wider recent approval ratings.

A poll for ICM in May of this year gave David Cameron an approval rating of -15 and Ed Miliband an approval rating of -22.

'No will'

During the period in which the poll was carried out, President Barack Obama said he would consult Congress about military action, and the US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington had evidence that the nerve agent sarin had been used by the Syrian government during the deadly attack in Damascus.

But it appears that the British public have little appetite to participate in any joint military response, said BBC political research editor David Cowling.

"[There is] emphatic support for what the parliamentary parties have done, [and] emphatic views that this is not really damaging the special relationship, which I know is a matter of concern for many politicians," he said.

He went on: "What strikes me from this poll and other polls that we have seen is that the British public certainly don't have an appetite for our [military] engagement but also don't see any link between us and what is going on in Syria.

"Nobody underestimates or understates the appalling damage that has been done over the last two years in Syria but there seems to be no will at all for the British people to be engaged in any military activity."

BBC poll results on Syria military action

The poll's findings are broadly in line with other opinion polls asking similar questions, which have also concluded that a substantive majority of people are against UK military involvement in Syria.

A YouGov poll of nearly 2,000 people on Wednesday suggested 50% were against a missile strike, while 25% were in favour.

Meanwhile, a poll of nearly 2,000 people carried out by Opinium Research for the Observer newspaper on Saturday found 60% were opposed to British military action.

The interviews carried out for the poll were then weighted to the demographic profile of all adults across Britain.