The Labour Party has confirmed its MPs will be given a free vote on whether to support the government's plans to launch air strikes in Syria to combat Islamic State (Isis). The party said the shadow cabinet, some of whom are behind David Cameron's proposals, will back leader Jeremy Corbyn's call for a free vote rather than impose a party whip.
The 66-year-old, who already announced he will not be supporting Cameron's plans for air strikes for not making a "convincing case" to do so, is also pushing the prime minister for a two-day debate in the House of Commons before any vote can take place.
A spokesperson for Corbyn said: "Today's shadow cabinet agreed to back Jeremy Corbyn's recommendation of a free vote on the government's proposal to authorise UK bombing in Syria. The shadow cabinet decided to support the call for David Cameron to step back from the rush to war and hold a full two-day debate in the House of Commons on such a crucial national decision.
"Shadow cabinet members agreed to call David Cameron to account on the unanswered questions raised by his case for bombing: including how it would accelerate a negotiated settlement of the Syrian civil war; what ground troops would take territory evacuated by IS; military co-ordination and strategy; the refugee crisis and the imperative to cut-off of supplies to IS."
Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn is one of those who has already publicly spoken out in support for Cameron, suggesting there are "compelling arguments" for air strikes in Syria.
In his letter to the prime minister asking for a two-day debate on the issue, Corbyn wrote: As of this morning, we have not had a clear proposal from the government on when you plan to bring forward a motion to the house on air strikes in Syria or on arrangements for the debate.
"In the view of the opposition on a matter of such critical importance there must be full and adequate time for any debate in the house and only a full two-day debate would ensure time for all members who wish to participate to be able to do so.
"As has happened previously, a one-day debate would inevitably lead to important contributions being curtailed. It is incumbent on us all to ensure the country feels there has been the fullest parliamentary discussion of what you have rightly described as a highly complex situation. In addition, the debate would be much better informed by views from the foreign affairs and defence select committees following your recent statements."
Elsewhere, an internal party poll of 1,900 supporters suggested 75% of Labour members backed Corbyn anti-air strike stance.