Syria arms: Parliament would get vote, Hague pledges


William Hague: "As things stand the world is failing the people of Syria"

Parliament would get to vote before the UK sent any arms to Syrian opposition forces, William Hague has said.

More than 80 Conservative MPs have written to David Cameron urging Parliament to be consulted if the UK decides to provide any weapons.

The foreign secretary told the BBC that while there was no established procedure for such a situation, there "will be a vote one way or another".

He also suggested MPs could be recalled if they were in recess at the time.

The UK and France have led calls for more support for the official opposition in Syria, but MPs from all parties have warned of the dangers of escalating a conflict that has already claimed the lives of 80,000, and of strengthening extremist elements.


The EU lifted its embargo on arms to either side in the conflict last month, but the UK has insisted no action will be taken immediately and its focus is on planned peace talks in Geneva and efforts to secure a negotiated settlement.

Mr Hague told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme that any decision to send arms into the war zone would be "controversial" and that people justifiably had "strong views" about the issue.

Start Quote

The Syrian rebels urgently need their own surface-to-air missiles and tank-busters to have any chance of winning. Britain can and should supply them with them”

End Quote Brooks Newmark Conservative MP

He said the UK would be "very reluctant" to send arms but the reality was that tens of thousands of people were being killed and that forces opposed to the Syrian government did not have the means to defend themselves.

"As things stand today, the world is failing the people of Syria," he said.

Pressed on whether Parliament would be given a chance to vote on the issue before any decision was taken, he said there was no established procedure but the government had a "very good record" of seeking Parliamentary consent.

"There would be a vote one way or another. I can't see any reason why it would not be before any decision was implemented."

'One-sided war'

The EU has said the situation will be reviewed again on 1 August, leading some MPs to express concerns that a decision could be taken during the six-week summer recess when Parliament is not sitting.

But Mr Hague said: "I think if we were making such a decision and it was very controversial, there would be a huge demand for the recall of Parliament and I think I can be very reassuring to MPs about this subject."

Conservative MP Julian Lewis has suggested the government would be "unwise" to proceed without consulting Parliament and there was a strong possibility that the government would lose any vote.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Lewis said that if ministers thought they could "get this thing through behind Parliament's back during the recess, they are having to think again".

But Conservative MP Brooks Newmark, who has met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on several occasions, said it was clear the Syrian leader was "willing to destroy Syria completely and kill its people in vast numbers to protect his family".

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said the conflict was currently "one-sided", with the authorities receiving military support from Russia and Iran, while the opposition was fragmented and under-equipped.

"The Syrian rebels urgently need their own surface-to-air missiles and tank-busters to have any chance of winning. Britain can and should supply them with them," he said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Not in my name, and I hope the MP's think the same.

    Arming terrorists will only result in the loss of many more innocent lives for years to come.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    On the Big Questions rebel supporters insisting weapons are best - no mention of support for political resolutions. They talked about women and children killed by Govt forces. Where were the regrets for the women and children slaughtered by the rebels? The first innocents to die were the families of Govt workers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    MPs got the vote on the invasion of Iraq. This time it is important that they get the true facts before they vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Hague has his back covered, if you don't like us arming rebels who have Al-Qaeda helping them to over throw Assad, expect a visit from our friends
    British intelligence services GCHQ who will be listening and waiting for your response. If you rebel against us your classed as terrorists and radicals and he has your details in data form in the USA and you will be in our secrete courts to punish you

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Nothing is given away for free. (Except our nation, but don't get me started!). The deal is "use our weapons to fight a bitter war and overthrow the government (at great human cost) then you will owe us.
    We expect you to support our aims, Israel's aims and hand your country over to consumer capitalism and MacDonalds".
    But once in power they will tell us to go to hell. Do we never learn?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Hague is an idiot. He thinks it's acceptable to deny people their basic civil liberties whilst at the same time arming extremists groups who have used chemical weapons.

    When do we get a vote of no confidence in Hague? Then there's always Gove, May, Hunt and Osbourne... I'm not sure the country can wait till 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I just get this goverment.As the country battles daily with its own problems (nhs cut backs.benefit withdrawls for needy folk,and endless other cutbacks. the goverment is prepared to spend more millions on other countrys problems.We had the iraq war then afganistan billions wasted.It would be nice for the uk citizens to be asked what there money is going on.The people at the top need to get a grip

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Its a pity Blair and Campbell are gone. I really miss the spin, lies and ham acting.

    And those dodgy dossiers...I miss a good read.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    If ever there was a Road to Hell scenario then this has to be it.
    Supplying the rebels with arms will not end this conflict it will escalate it.
    And once these arms are supplied who is to say we will not get them back in the form of terrorist attacks?
    IED's used in Afghanistan against British soldiers are made using ordinance supplied by the west to the Afghans to fight the Russians in the 1980's

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    The geopolitical situation of the region and beyond is very different now, and any messing up by the West in the region will inevitably boomerang against them mercilessly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    It seems reasonable to let MP's vote; so now you just have to email your MP with your stance. Ask your MP to publish numbers for and against and how he/she voted and hey, you get democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The method in HMG's madness is obviously this - we arm X against the Syrian government (one of the nastier ones that happen to prefer Russian weapons to BAe ones) and they can kill each other cheaply in Syria whereas if we don't arm them they might come here and try and kill us. Then if X turn nasty and attack us anyway we'll declare war and flatten Syria. Q.v. Afghanistan, Iraq.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    The Syrian Rebels are a collection of different groups ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous i.e Al-Quaeda, their so called leaders do not speak for them all and they are not able to even agree to who will go to the Peace Talks. In the 80's we undermined the Russians in Afghan by supplying the Mujahadeen (now Taliban/Al Quaeda) and the the French have a score to settle we should keep out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The beebs book of topics has become stuck on S.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Can we not learn the lessons of even recent history? Not our busines, not our war and we cannot afford another 5-10 year committment where we are not really wanted.


  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Our country is broke !! We cannot afford to buy damn weapons !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    We can't get involved in this. It has become sectarian battle. Any assistance we give will be seen as choosing sides and will result in repercussions. Once in we can't get out.

    Spending should be focused on issues within the UK. We have enough problems here that need attention. We cannot afford to spend on other people's battles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    If 80 Tory MPs want a vote there must be quite a lot of money on offer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Why don't they have a vote of no confidence in William Hague's policies?

  • Comment number 23.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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