23 OCT 2015

Military Action & Airstrikes in Syria

In recent weeks there has been a lot of discussion about our approach to Syria, terrorism, whether we should have The Queen, armed forces and why we bother with the National Anthem. All of these things are connected so I am setting out my overall position on Syria and these other matters in this note. Some have also asked how strongly we should condemn terrorism and whether it is right to use drones to take the battle to terrorists.

My answer to all these things is clear. Security and stability matter. They are the first priority of any Government. We don't just have The Queen and a Royal Family for the fun of it. They are key to providing an anchor of stability to our system of government, politics and way of life. We don't need to look far to see countries who don't have that struggling to find a stable political system.

Our armed forces matter. They guarantee our security in the World. We are able to go about our business and to exercise our freedoms because our armed forces protect us all. They have kept our nation safe and stopped us being conquered by our enemies. They still make brave sacrifices to keep us safe today. Our nuclear deterrent ensures we are taken seriously across the World.

Where a British citizen turns terrorist and takes up arms against us, what should we do? In my book we should treat them like any other enemy. Drone strikes against such people are necessary to prevent atrocities at home. Similarly, I condemn those who try to explain away - or even support - the IRA. This terrorist organisation murdered our Marines in Deal. We will never forget what they did. Not will we forget the disgraceful statements on the IRA of now leading figures in the Labour Party - they should hang their heads in shame.

While I believe in having powerful armed forces, I am less keen on sending them round the World. For this reason I was deeply sceptical of taking action in Syria a couple of years ago. Yet the rise of ISIS and the destruction of Syria as a country is no longer a matter we can ignore. The situation is not simply desperate for millions of people. It is a breeding ground for terrorists who wish to attack us here in Britain and the mass migration of people to Europe is turning into a humanitarian disaster. So I now believe we need to act to secure our continued stability and security. There needs to be a coalition to take action to stop the bloodshed in Syria and help rebuild that shattered nation. I will support Britain playing a role to make that happen.

Clearly the picture is complicated by Russia's involvement which seeks to prop up the bloodthirsty dictator Assad. The ideal is to get an international coalition, including Russia, to destroy ISIS and ensure a transition from Assad to peace and stability. The people of Syria need to be able to go home and rebuild their shattered nation.

We don't often have a discussion about why our way of life is the way it is. I'm glad we have recently. It is important we all remember how The Queen and our armed forces help provide stability and security. How terrorists must always be tackled and condemned at every turn. And why splendid isolation is not always the best foreign policy. Sometimes we need to act to ensure continued peace at home and abroad. On Syria, we now need to act.

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