Nick Smith MP has said we must now work to stop Islamist radicalisation in Britain and support international negotiations after voting against extending bombing into Syria.
The Blaenau Gwent MP has written to constituents explaining “one of the toughest decisions you can make as an MP” after voting against the Government’s motion on Wednesday.
Mr Smith said although he understood the threat and menace Daesh/ISIL posed, he was not persuaded by the Government’s argument about there being sufficient ground forces in Syria.
Before the vote Mr Smith emailed 1,200 constituents asking for their viewpoints, alongside canvassing opinion on social media and during local visits.
A full copy of the letter is below:
After a long debate Parliament has voted in favour of the Government motion to take further action on Daesh/ISIL in Syria.
Since the Prime Minister outlined his plans I have given much thought to this matter, heard numerous briefings and tried to contact all the constituents who had come to me with matters over the years.
Many of the comments I received were thoughtful and considered, and I have listened long and hard to the briefings and the spokespeople from the Government and the main opposition parties today.
In the end I voted against bombing Syria and said no to the Government’s motion.
Ultimately although I think Daesh/ISIL are a menace and a continued threat to the security of our country, I was not persuaded by the argument that there were sufficient ground forces which would lead to a coherent campaign. Given that Syria is a cauldron of different ideologies, conflicting forces, religious groups and subject to much external pressure, in the end I was not persuaded by the Governments case last night.
Many of those who argued in favour rightly emphasised that however the vote had gone tonight there would be continued attacks from Daesh/ISIL and I do think we must brace ourselves for this.
In the coming weeks and months I believe we must all support the international peace efforts begun in Vienna and proceeding to New York shortly. Hopefully these will lead to political stability in Syria so that ISIL can be beaten on the ground.
As the Government motion has been agreed, we must now rally round our forces who will be engaged in military activity. We must hope that civilian casualties will be kept to a minimum and we must hope that work in this country to stop radicalisation continues so that Daesh/ISIL’s supporters from this country are reduced.
Thank you to everyone who has written in with their views. It’s one of the toughest decisions you can make as an MP, so your opinions, thoughts and wellwishing has been a big part of my decision. I hope if we disagree on this vote, you can understand this was a vote of conscience that I agonised over for a long time.