Syria crisis: Welsh rebel MP's fear over action

Prime Minister David Cameron says he would respect the vote

A Welsh MP who rebelled against the coalition government over military action in Syria says he does not believe UK intervention would help.

David Davies, MP for Monmouth, was among 30 Conservative and nine Liberal Democrat MPs who voted to defeat a motion on possible action by 285-272.

He said he believed even if chemical weapons were stopped, the Syrian regime would use other methods to kill people.

Lib Dem Brecon and Radnorshire MP Roger Williams also voted against action.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he would respect the defeat, adding: "It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action."

Start Quote

Unfortunately I don't think we're necessarily going to stop anything by getting involved”

End Quote David Davies Monmouth MP

His call for a military response in Syria followed a suspected chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on 21 August in which hundreds of people are reported to have died.

The US and UK say the Assad government was behind the attack - a claim denied by Damascus, which blames the rebels.

Mr Davies said he had not been convinced that air strikes to try to stop the Syrian regime would improve the situation for people caught up in the civil war.

"His [President Assad's] regime has behaved in a brutal fashion, there's no doubt about that," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"But can we help by getting involved? Unfortunately I don't think we're necessarily going to stop anything by getting involved."

He added that he feared that even if the use of chemical weapons was stopped the regime would still use other weapons to kill and maim innocent people.

Mr Davies said that it was conceded during the parliamentary debate on Thursday that to do anything significant would need troops on the ground in Syria, "which is something people don't support at the moment".

Admitting that the shadow of the Iraq war was looming over the debate, he said that MPs had become a "bit more sceptical" and not as trusting of intelligence.

But he insisted that despite disagreeing over Syria he supported the prime minister, adding that Mr Cameron "grew in my estimation because of the honest way" he presented the information known to the government.

"We all had to come to our own view about what we knew," he said.

However, Conservative MP for Aberconwy Guto Bebb, who voted for the motion, said there was "no doubt" the vote was damaging for Mr Cameron.

He said it was a "serious blow to the PM" and to his credibility "on the international stage".

Labour MP Chris Bryant (above) and Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd expressed concerns

Before the vote, other Welsh MPs expressed doubts about UK involvement.

During the debate ahead of the vote, Rhondda's Labour MP Chris Bryant said: "Many of us on this side of the House, and I think on his as well, would want to say there is not a choice between action and inaction.

"It's simply a choice of what action should be taken and some of us worry that military action can exacerbate the situation rather than make it better and draw us in to mission creep which we would have very little control over."

'Mass destruction'

Veteran Labour backbencher Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, said he would oppose any resolution for military action.

He told the debate: "The fact that this House was told that there were weapons of mass destruction that were a threat to the United Kingdom and we were told again in 2006 that we went into Helmand Province in the hope that not a shot would be fired and the results of accepting those decisions are 623 United Kingdom deaths of our brave soldiers.

Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd had warned military action would "prolong the conflict and lead to further bloodshed".

He told the Commons: "The serious question is why was a draft motion not presented to the United Nations before now? Why the delay?

"Now it's all very interesting referring to difficulties but diplomacy hasn't failed utterly. It was, after all, the Russians that pressed the Syrian government to allow the UN inspectors in on Monday."

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