British MPs voted on Wednesday, 2 December, to launch bombing raids against Islamic State (Isis) in Syria, supporting Prime Minister David Cameron's case that the country needs to help destroy militants who are "plotting to kill us."
After more than 10 hours of tense debate, lawmakers voted in favour of air strikes, by 397 to 223. The government motion was passed thanks to a split in the opposition Labour Party where politicians, including senior figures and shadow cabinet members, went against leader Jeremy Corbyn to vote for the strikes against IS to be extended to Syria. Labour MP and shadow international development secretary of state, Diane Abbott, played down the split in the party on the issue.
"The vast majority of the Labour Party, the majority of Labour MPs and a substantial number of shadow cabinet members are in the same position as Jeremy [Corbyn]. I think that public opinion, very soon, will tire of Cameron's vary," she said.
"First of all I would argue that the party as a whole is not divided, the party as a whole, its members, the NEC [National Executive Committee], MPs, take Jeremy's position. But I'd also say frankly, this has been a tragic vote tonight, and who we should be thinking of is the people of Raqqa when those bombers fly over them in the next 24 hours."
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he hoped the military action would not be open-ended. "Well I hope it won't be four years but I'd caution that it won't be months," he said. "I've said this evening in the debate, that while we are using airstrikes to contain and degrade ISIL [Islamic State] in Raqqa, we will be pursuing a political track trying to resolve the Syrian civil war.
"It's only when those two things come together, when the degradation of ISIL in Raqqa and the creation of a transitional Syrian government are both happening, that we can then actually utilise the forces that are currently fighting each other – the Syrian government forces, the Syrian opposition forces, the Kurdish forces, and get them turned around and facing towards ISIL and able to finish off the job in Raqqa, reclaiming what will then be the territory of the new Free Syria from the evil empire of Daesh [IS]."