‘UN should have acted sooner on Syria’ - MP

Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris
Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris

Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris put questions from his constituents to the Prime Minister in a private meeting about possible military action in Syria last week.

Mr Heaton-Harris asked constituents their view on what, if anything, should be done in Syria following a suspected chemical weapons attack killing hundreds of Syrian people in Damascus on 21 August.

The Government put forward a motion in support of military action in Syria if it was backed up by evidence from United Nations weapons inspectors, who are investigating the attack. MPs rejected the motion in the House of Commons on Friday.

Mr Heaton-Harris, who voted in favour of the motion, said: “The main thing my constituents wanted to hear was that this wasn’t a vote that meant we would be active in any military strike on Syria. And what David Cameron said to me was that it wasn’t a green light on a military strike, it wasn’t even an amber light, it was exactly what it said in the motion, so I was quite comfortable with voting for it.”

Though he does not begrudge the decision not to take action Mr Heaton-Harris said he was disappointed the UN had not taken a stance sooner.

He said: “It’s a very worrying phenomenon what’s going on in Syria now, normally we would expect the community to stand up and take a stance sooner. There have been 14 previous attacks in Syria and the one that happened last week was the 15th and largest by a long way but realistically the international community has been very slow in their condemnation of what’s going on.”

The MP said now he would like to see a UN motion condemning Syria and then an international agreement on what should happen next.

Following the vote he said: “I realised, as I think every other MP did, that our constituents want us to be considerate of domestic issues first and I don’t begrudge the decision.”