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Tory Minister Opposes Giving Parliament More Military Power

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has opposed calls to give Parliament greater powers over military interventions...

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International Development Secretary and former Defence minister Penny Mordaunt has opposed calls to give Parliament greater powers over military interventions.

Her comments follow the UK's strikes against Syria over the weekend, action which Theresa May took without consulting parliament.

In response to the attack, Jeremy Corbyn called for a "War Powers Act" to ensure that any military action would have to be approved by MPs. 

However, Ms Mordaunt, talking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, claimed that Parliament would not have all the required intelligence information:

"To take a decision on whether something is legally justified, and whether what we are actually intending on doing in terms of targets is appropriate, you would need to know information that could not be shared with every MP.

"And so, outsourcing that decision to people who do not have the full picture is, I think, quite wrong. And, the convention that was established, I think is very wrong.

"I support governments being able to take those decisions, Parliament should hold the government to account for that decision."

Penny Mordaunt

Ms Mordaunt said she opposed the idea of giving MPs more control as put forward by then Tory foreign secretary William Hague in 2011, saying: "I think that is wrong."

Asked if then PM David Cameron was wrong to recall parliament to vote on proposed intervention in Syria in 2013, Ms Mordaunt said: "I would disagree with anyone that thinks we got 2013 right."

The Cabinet minister said the intervention in Syria was a "very limited" action to deter the use of chemical weapons.

Shadow attorney-general Baroness Chakrabarti questioned the Government's justification for the attacks on Syria, telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"You can't use force under international law just to punish Syria for bad behaviour.

"You have to actually be using urgent, necessary and proportionate force. And you have to do it with the will of the world behind you."

Boris Johnson

She added: "I think that Parliament should have been recalled before the strike.

“Some people will suspect that that didn't happen because of government concerns that they couldn't get the vote in Parliament. And that to me is not a good enough reason."

The shadow attorney general said:

"The Government has not passed the tests it set for itself.

"I don't think that the Government can demonstrate convincing evidence and a general acceptance by the international community that they had to act in the way they did a few days ago."

Boris Johnson, arriving for a summit of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, said:

"The action that was taken by France, by the UK, by the United States in launching calibrated and proportionate strikes against Assad's chemical weapons capabilities, was entirely right, entirely the right thing to do - right for the UK and right for the world.

The Foreign Secretary stressed it was "not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have regime change" and "the Syrian war in many ways will go on in its horrible, miserable way".

"But it was the world saying that we have had enough of the use of chemical weapons, the erosion of that taboo that has been in place for 100 years has gone too far under Bashar Assad," he said.

"It was time that we said no and it was totally, therefore, the right thing to do."

The UK dismissed as "ludicrous" a suggestion from Russia that it was behind the Douma chemical weapons attack.

At a meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), UK representative Peter Wilson said: "Russia has argued that the attack on Douma was somehow staged, or faked.

"They have even suggested that the UK was behind the attack. That is ludicrous.

"The attack on Douma was not reported by just a sole source in opposition to the regime. There are multiple eyewitness accounts, substantial video footage, accounts from first responders and medical evidence."

He said Moscow was "spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation" to undermine the integrity of the OPCW's fact-finding mission to Syria.