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Prime Minister Theresa May muses on how she will explain her actions to Parliament.

Theresa May defends UK part in Syria bombing

THE LAST TIME Parliament discussed whether to bomb Syria, it voted against taking action. Nonetheless, when offered the chance to put UK and Syrian lives at risk last night, Prime Minister Theresa May joined in.

Today May said that she had acted because there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force.” She believed that the attack had been a success. However, there was confusion over why the UK had been involved in the military action.

On the one hand the Prime Minister stressed that the allies conducting the bombing were not trying to achieve regime change. They were not seeking to remove Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad from office, she said – just to curtail his actions and stop him using chemical weapons again.

However, she then went on to talk about Russia – which supports President Assad – and said that they would have to realise, from this action, that they should not undertake any chemical attacks, like the recent attack on Sergei and Julia Skripal, again.

The Prime Minister did not deal with the issue of whether the evidence that President Assad and the Russian Government were involved in the two chemical attacks was conclusive.

President Macron of France echoed Theresa May’s words about the reason for the bombing. He referred to the dozens of men, women and children who had been killed by chemical weapons in Douma and said that action had crossed “the red line”.

The Prime Minster will now have to explain herself to Parliament – both in terms of why she decided to join the US attack and why she took the decision to do so without consulting Parliament. So far she has said that security and operational reasons meant that the decision had to be taken before Parliament could be recalled: MPs are not likely to be very impressed.

One question MPs will be putting to the Prime Minister is what the legal basis for the bombing was. The Government has said that it will publish a summary of the legal advice it received over the weekend, so MPs can see it before Parliament resumes on Monday, after the Easter recess.

A second question the Prime Minister is likely to be asked is whether she would do it again. She may hope that President Assad woke up on Saturday morning, was told about the bombing and went, “Bother – better not use any chemical weapons again.” That response is unlikely.

Theresa May has already refused to rule out more bombing to enforce the ban on chemical weapons. She has not indicated what her response will be if President Assad, or President Putin, take retaliatory action in response to last night’s attack – and whether she will consult Parliament if there is a next time.

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