Hague ridicules Labour's claim for credit over Syria

Syrian woman with a poster of president assad Mr Hague said President Bashar al-Assad's forces had been behind a deadly chemical attack

A Labour suggestion that UK MPs averted a US military strike on Syria has been laughed off by William Hague.

The shadow foreign secretary had said it was "abundantly clear" a recent parliamentary vote against British involvement had stopped the attack.

But, updating MPs on the crisis, Mr Hague called the claim "extraordinary".

It comes as international wrangling continues over how to respond to a deadly poison gas attack in Syria last month.

'Self-obsessed'

Labour's Douglas Alexander had suggested a US strike would have happened by now "if the motion had been passed".

He suggested the "diplomatic path" now advocated by the foreign secretary "would never have been reached".

But Mr Hague ridiculed the claim as "self-obsessed"

Chemical weapons plan timeline

5-6 Sep: Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama discuss idea of placing Syria's chemical weapons under international control, on sidelines of G20 summit

9 Sep: Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, says he has urged Syria to hand in chemical weapons and have them destroyed; Syria welcomes plan

10 Sep: Syria's foreign minister makes first public admission of the regime's chemical weapons stockpile; commits Syria to Russian plan. President Obama postpones Congress vote on military action and says he will give Russian plan a chance

12 Sep: US Secretary of State John Kerry due to meet Mr Lavrov in Geneva

"It's like the story of the cockerel that thought its crowing brought about the dawn," he said, referring to the opposition's vote against a government motion that could have paved the way for UK military involvement.

He was addressing the Commons before Westminster breaks for the month so MPs can attend their party conferences.

He told Parliament a Russian plan to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control could avert a military strike.

"This initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force," the foreign secretary added.

He said the the proposal must be "taken seriously", but struck a note of caution, warning: "This is a regime that has lied for years about possessing chemical weapons, that still denies that it has used them."

Meanwhile the US continued to press for an international response to a suspected sarin gas attack last month.

Hundreds of people were killed in the atrocity, which America and the UK have blamed on Syrian government forces.

Writing in the New York Times Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Moscow's belief the opposition was behind the attack "to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons".

But Mr Hague told MPs "all the evidence continues to point in one direction", adding: "The international consensus that the regime was responsible is growing."

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  74.  
    07:44: Hoax caller to No 10 Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

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    07:24: George Osborne interview BBC Radio 4 Today

    Chancellor George Osborne is quizzed about the recent defection of UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir to the Conservatives. Mr Bashir was suspended by UKIP over various allegations - all of which he denies - shortly before announcing his defection on Saturday.

    Asked about the MEP's past, Mr Osborne told the BBC: "I am certainly not aware of something that I should be worried about."

     
  78.  
    07:16: Greek election fallout

    The landslide Syriza victory in the Greek elections means there are some tough eurozone negotiations on the horizon. The Open Europe blog breaks down what could happen next, and what all of this means for Greece, the eurozone and the EU.

     
  79.  
    07:11: Fracking warning
    A shale gas test well

    An influential committee of MPs has called for a moratorium on fracking on the grounds that it could derail efforts to tackle climate change. The government's drive for shale gas should be put on hold because it would lead to more reliance on fossil fuels, the Environmental Audit Committee said.

     
  80.  
    07:07: 100 constituencies BBC Radio 4 Today

    In what's shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable elections ever, where the prospects of smaller parties and local results could be more crucial than ever in determining who governs Britain, Today will be visiting 100 different constituencies between now and polling day. Recent opinion polls suggest the key barometer seat of Thurrock is now a three way marginal between the Tories, Labour and UKIP. Our correspondent Matthew Price went to hear how voters feel about the pending election.

     
  81.  
    07:05: Election battlegrounds
    election map

    We may not know who will win the next general election but we do know which parts of the country will determine the fates of the political parties. Have a look at the BBC's guide to political battlegrounds of the 2015 general election.

     
  82.  
    06:55: Hoax caller

    Other news this morning includes a security review being carried out by Downing Street after a hoax call to Prime Minister David Cameron. Number 10 said the caller claimed to be Robert Hannigan, director of government monitoring agency GCHQ. Mr Cameron ended the call when it became clear it was a hoax and no sensitive information was disclosed.

    Despite this there has bee plenty of mischief-making online at Mr Cameron's expense.

    Tweet
     
  83.  
    06:43: Greek election fallout
    Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras

    There's still more than three months to go until the UK election, but the impact of the Greek elections is being felt across Europe, after the success of the anti-austerity Syriza party. Its leader has pledged to renegotiate the country's massive international bailout.

     
  84.  
    06:42: 'Tough to predict' David Cowling Editor, BBC Political Research Unit
    Nigel Farage

    "With its first ever prime ministerial debates, new constituency boundaries and opinion polls suggesting the novelty of three evenly-matched Westminster parties, the 2010 general election was difficult to predict. However, the 2015 election looks set to present us with an even bigger headache." The BBC's David Cowling considers why factors such as the rise of Nigel Farage's UK Independence Party make this general election very difficult to call.

     
  85.  
    06:37: 100 constituencies

    To give a flavour of the contest ahead, the Today programme will be hearing from 100 different constituencies between now and polling day. The aim is to try and give a picture of how voters around the UK feel about some of the big issues at stake. They kick off today in Thurrock in Essex.

     
  86.  
    06:26: On the agenda

    What's coming up today? Speaker John Bercow has been talking to BBC Political editor Nick Robinson about the Digital Democracy Commission and its proposals, which include allowing people to vote online in the 2020 general election. You can read the full story and the full interview will be broadcast as part of Can Democracy Work? series on Tuesday on BBC Radio 4 at 09:00 GMT.

     
  87.  
    06:24: Election countdown

    We've got a busy day ahead of us - all the parties are stepping up their campaigning and attempting to get on the front foot ahead of the General Election on 7 May. There're just 101 days to go now... and to mark the occasion the BBC News Channel have some special features planned for the day about the issues which are likely to have an impact at the election.

     
  88.  
    06:20: Good morning Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Hello and welcome to the first day of our rolling coverage of all things political as it happens. We'll be bringing you all the breaking news, the latest tips from the BBC's political team plus the key reaction and analysis from the BBC's unmatched range of programmes. We'll start each morning with BBC Radio 4's Today programme and Breakfast, continue through the day with the best of the BBC News Channel, Daily Politics, The World at One/PM right through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament.

     

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