You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

U.K.’s Cameron loses Syria war vote

  • In this image taken from video, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, centre, speaks during a debate on Syria, in Britain's parliament, London, Thursday August 29, 2013. Britain's leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but it is not certain how much support there is for the government's resolution on Syria.  Behind Cameron are British Foreign Secretary William Hague, obscured 2nd right, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, left. (AP Photo / PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVESIn this image taken from video, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, centre, speaks during a debate on Syria, in Britain's parliament, London, Thursday August 29, 2013. Britain's leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but it is not certain how much support there is for the government's resolution on Syria. Behind Cameron are British Foreign Secretary William Hague, obscured 2nd right, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, left. (AP Photo / PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES
  • People take part in a protest calling for no military attack on Syria from the U.S., Britain or France, outside the Houses of Parliament, in London, organized by the Stop the War coalition and timed to coincide with a debate and vote by politicians, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013.  Britain's leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council.  Prime Minister David Cameron's office said the legal conditions have been met for taking action against Syria for allegedly launching a chemical attack against civilians in a Damascus suburb last week.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)People take part in a protest calling for no military attack on Syria from the U.S., Britain or France, outside the Houses of Parliament, in London, organized by the Stop the War coalition and timed to coincide with a debate and vote by politicians, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Britain's leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council. Prime Minister David Cameron's office said the legal conditions have been met for taking action against Syria for allegedly launching a chemical attack against civilians in a Damascus suburb last week. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
  • In this image taken from video obtained from the Erbin Ciity, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, U.N. investigation team with blue helmets speak with Free Syrian Army fighters in the Damascus countryside of Zamalka, Syria, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Syria's state news agency quoted President Bashar Assad as saying Syria will defend itself against any aggression. (AP Photo/Erbin City via AP video)In this image taken from video obtained from the Erbin Ciity, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, U.N. investigation team with blue helmets speak with Free Syrian Army fighters in the Damascus countryside of Zamalka, Syria, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Syria's state news agency quoted President Bashar Assad as saying Syria will defend itself against any aggression. (AP Photo/Erbin City via AP video)
  • Israeli soldiers drive a tank at a staging area in the Golan Heights, near the border between the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and Syria, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. United Nations experts are investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria as the United States and allies prepare for the possibility of a punitive strike against President Bashar Assad's regime, blamed by the Syrian opposition for the attack. The international aid group Doctors Without Borders says at least 355 people were killed in the Aug. 21 attack. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)Israeli soldiers drive a tank at a staging area in the Golan Heights, near the border between the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and Syria, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. United Nations experts are investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria as the United States and allies prepare for the possibility of a punitive strike against President Bashar Assad's regime, blamed by the Syrian opposition for the attack. The international aid group Doctors Without Borders says at least 355 people were killed in the Aug. 21 attack. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
  • Members of the Greek Communist Party march with flags,  in front of the Parliament in Athens during an protest against any military action by the U.S. and its allies against Syria,  on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)Members of the Greek Communist Party march with flags, in front of the Parliament in Athens during an protest against any military action by the U.S. and its allies against Syria, on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)
  • In this image taken from video, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, front left, stands to speak to the assembled parliament during a debate on Syria, in Britain's parliament, London, Thursday Aug. 29, 2013. Britain's leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but it is not certain how much support there is for the government's resolution on Syria. (AP Photo / PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVESIn this image taken from video, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, front left, stands to speak to the assembled parliament during a debate on Syria, in Britain's parliament, London, Thursday Aug. 29, 2013. Britain's leaders said Thursday it would be legal under humanitarian doctrine to launch a military strike against Syria even without authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but it is not certain how much support there is for the government's resolution on Syria. (AP Photo / PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES
  • U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power talks with British delegate Michael Tatham in the United Nations Security Council,  Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Inspection team in Syria is expected to complete its work Friday and report to him Saturday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)  U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power talks with British delegate Michael Tatham in the United Nations Security Council, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Inspection team in Syria is expected to complete its work Friday and report to him Saturday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
  • An Israeli woman carries gas masks at a distribution center in the northern port city of Haifa, Israel, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Israeli police say thousands of Israelis are crowding gas mask distribution facilities, readying for a potential conflict in Syria. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)An Israeli woman carries gas masks at a distribution center in the northern port city of Haifa, Israel, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Israeli police say thousands of Israelis are crowding gas mask distribution facilities, readying for a potential conflict in Syria. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes Thursday, a stunning defeat for a government which had been poised to join the U.S. in strikes to punish Bashar Assad's regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack this month.

Cameron's nonbinding motion was defeated 285-272 and he conceded after the vote that "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action."

The prime minister said in terse comments while he believes in a "tough response" to the use of chemical weapons, he would respect the will of the House of Commons.

At the start of the week, Cameron had seemed ready to join Washington in possible military action against Assad over the alleged chemical weapons attack. But the push for strikes against the Syrian regime began to lose momentum as Britain's Labour Party — still smarting from its ill-fated decision to champion the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — announced its opposition to the move.

Cameron gave concessions, promising to give the U.N. inspectors time to report back to the U.N. Security Council and to do his outmost to secure a resolution there. He also promised to give lawmakers a second vote in a bid to assuage fears that Britain was being rushed into an attack on Assad.

In the end, it wasn't enough to dispel lingering suspicions that what was billed as a limited campaign would turn into an Iraq-style quagmire.

Tony Travers, the director of the government department at the London School of Economics, said Cameron had clearly miscalculated when he brought Parliament back early from its summer recess. He said the move had been unpopular even within Cameron's Conservative Party.

"Clearly this will be seen as a defeat, it suggests he got the politics wrong, both with the opposition and with some members of his own party," Travers said. "It's not great, it's not brilliant, nor is it the end of the world for him. He's lost votes before. It doesn't necessarily stop them taking further action, but they are going to have to start again really."

He said there was "not a lot" of public support for British military activity in Syria.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks