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Parliament votes against military action in Syria - how Hampshire MPs voted
8:58am Friday 30th August 2013 in New Forest
David Cameron ruled out UK involvement in military action against Syria after his authority and international standing were dealt a severe blow by defeat on the issue in the Commons.
- How your MP voted - see below
A motion backing the use of force ''if necessary'' in response to last week's deadly chemical weapons attack was rejected by 272 votes to 285, majority 13.
Mr Cameron had already been forced to water down his stance - accepting Labour demands that direct UK involvement required a second vote following an investigation by United Nations weapons inspectors.
But the concession fell short of winning over enough coalition MPs, conscious that public opinion is heavily against any intervention and wary of the decade-long controversy over the Iraq war.
After the shock result and to shouts of ''resign'' from the Labour benches, Mr Cameron told MPs: ''I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons.
''But I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons.
''It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly.''
Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Mr Cameron of ''cavalier and reckless leadership''.
''It was cavalier and reckless leadership that was taking Britain potentially into war without going through the United Nations, without putting the evidence properly before the British Parliament.
''I think he should learn the lesson from this episode which is what Britain needs is calm and measured leadership, not the kind of leadership he has shown over this issue.''
Mr Cameron had conceded to MPs there could be no ''100% certainty'' about who committed the attack as he appealed for support after recalling parliament from its summer break to discuss the crisis.
But the evidence convinced him ''beyond doubt'' the regime was responsible, he said, warning the biggest danger to Syria was for the world to ''stand back and do nothing'', encouraging more attacks.
A Labour amendment calling for action to await more ''compelling'' evidence was also defeated.
Mr Miliband's decision to oppose the motion despite the concession caused deep anger in government ranks - Defence Secretary Philip Hammond accused him of giving ''succour'' to Syria's President Bashar Assad.
Asked after the vote if that applied to Tory rebels, he said the ''Assad regime is going to be a little bit less uncomfortable tonight as a result of this decision''.
Confirming that the UK would not now take part directly in any military response in Syria, he conceded that it would ''place some strain'' on the so-called ''special relationship'' between Britain and the US.
The Prime Minister was ''disappointed'' and still believed action was needed but was clear that the mood of Parliament ''was that Britain should not be involved in military action and Britain will not be involved in military action'', he told BBC2's Newsnight.
The result will dismay allies in Washington and elsewhere seeking a wide coalition of support for air strikes to punish the regime.
Caitlin Hayden, President Barack Obama's national security council spokeswoman, said Washington would continue to consult with Britain, ''one of our closest allies and friends''.
Decisions would be based on ''the best interests of the United States'', she added - raising speculation that the US may launch unilateral military action within days.
Britain's role and influence in the world was also being questioned as a result of the vote as well as Mr Cameron's own leadership - though his position did not appear to be under any immediate threat.
Others declared it a major victory for parliament exercising its authority over the executive.
The spectre of the decision by Tony Blair to take Britain into war with Iraq a decade ago on the basis of intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that later proved false hung over the debate.
Mr Hammond said public and parliamentary opinion had been ''poisoned by the experience of the Iraq dodgy dossier''.
Among senior figures who joined the rebellion were former shadow hom secretary and Cameron leadership rival David Davis and Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell.
Another 31 Conservatives did not vote - including International Development Secretary Justine Greening and Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds - who missed the crucial poll after apparently not hearing the bell alerting MPs to the vote.
As nerves frayed, Education Secretary Michael Gove was reported to have shouted, ''disgrace, you're a disgrace'' at Conservative and Liberal Democrat rebels.
How Hampshire MPs voted on military action in Syria
- John Denham, Southampton Itchen - Against
- Alan Whitehead, Southampton Test - Against
- Mike Thornton, Eastleigh - For
- Steve Brine, Winchester - For
- Caroline Nokes, Romsey & Southampton North - For
- Mark Hoban, Fareham - For
- Caroline Dinenage, Gosport - For
- Desmond Swayne, New Forest West - For
- Julian Lewis, New Forest East - Against
- George Hollingbery, Meon Valley - For
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