How your MP voted? Parliament gives green light to RAF joining air strikes in Iraq
- Credit: PA
MPs have given the Government the green light to allow British forces to join air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq after more than six hours of debate in an emergency recall of Parliament.
The front benches of the three main parties united over the proposals, which could see the first strikes by jets from RAF Marham in Norfolk within hours.
Prime Minister David Cameron's motion was carried 524 to 43, a majority of 481,
Most MPs spoke out in favour of the motion but a number raised serious questions and reservations about the implications of launching a bombing campaign against IS, also known as Isil or Isis, without a clear exit strategy.
This included South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon who said: 'We have tried bombing on many occassions and on each occassion we have ended up making things worse. It was supported by members of parliament, some of who were will to acknowledge that we do not know were this is going, or where it will end, but none the less they were prepared to countenance air strikes.'
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He said that there needed to be a political solution, and solders on the ground that involved other muslim nations.
Mr Cameron began the day by insisting Britain had a clear 'duty' to join the campaign, which has already featured air attacks by the United States, France and Arab allies including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
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He braced the public for a mission that would last 'not just months but years' but said he was not prepared to 'subcontract' the protection of British streets from terrorism to other countries' air forces.
Labour leader Ed Miliband - who a year ago forced the Prime Minister to abandon plans for air strikes against the Syrian regime by inflicting a Commons revolt on the issue - said the UK 'cannot simply stand by'.
Concluding the debate, Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: 'There are times when it is simply impossible to reason with your foe.
'We must act, we do so mindful of the mistakes and lessons of the past. We do so with lawful authority, with clear objectives and with the support and active participation of a broad coalition of international opinion which is saying to Isil enough is enough.'
Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said he feared deaths if British action takes place.
But he said he would back the Government's proposal for Iraq with 'a feeling of depression and trepidation', although he also called for it to be extended to Syria.
Former Cabinet minister Ken Clarke described Britain's involvement in military action as largely symbolic.
The Rushcliffe MP said: 'I am left with the feeling that certainly I should support this motion because some of our best allies are taking part in this intervention.
'The main hope I have is it gives us a positive influence on the diplomacy and the unfolding politics that have to take place to try to get together what again seems to be agreed on all sides is necessary - the widest possible participation and settlement between the great powers of the region in order to get what we all want, lasting stability and security in what at the moment is a very dangerous region of the world.'
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: 'We are faced with circumstances in relation to Iraq in which its very survival is at stake.
'It is important we exercise a degree of responsibility in this matter because although it is not the sole cause of the circumstances in Iraq at the moment, there is no doubt the military action with which we joined the United States against Saddam Hussein has been a major contributor to the circumstances we now find ourselves in.'
Labour former minister Pat McFadden questioned why the Government had welcomed bombings in Syria but would not take part in them, citing it needed a legal basis to conduct such operations.
He said: 'Militarily we have to ask ourselves what is the point of chasing Isis from Iraq through a barely-existing border to Syria and morally we have to ask why is it right to come to the aid of the victims of Isis who are living under a democracy in Iraq but not those who are living under a dictatorship in Syria.
'Isn't it the case that the motion before us is actually a reflection of where the country stands right now - somewhat limited in its confidence, over-burdened by past events, looking too much in the rear-view mirror?'
Former coalition foreign office minister Alistair Burt said the support of countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for military action marks a profound shift in opinion.
Mr Burt said: 'None of us should underestimate the importance of those Islamic states having joined against this terrorist criminal group. This is a big thing.'
Labour's Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) said she supported the Government's proposal, adding she had been 'deeply troubled' by the way in which the international community had stood on the sidelines.
The former foreign minister, who co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan, said it was right to respond to the request of the Iraqi government.
But she went on: 'To imagine IS will recognise the border on a map is just wrong.'
Conservative MP Adam Holloway (Gravesham), who served in the first Gulf war, was among the first speakers to raise reservations about the plans.
He said the only people who can defeat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq are local Sunni tribes and members of Saddam Hussein's former Ba'athist regime.
He said: 'This shouldn't be a re-run of Iraq in 1991, where yes there was a big grand coalition of Arab states but it was still led by the United States. It shouldn't be 2003 either.
'If the West fails to morph into the background away from the military lead then I'm afraid our vote today will be driving our nation towards disaster.'
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) said the Government was exercising double standards over human rights as Britain's ally Saudi Arabia regularly beheads people.
Mr Corbyn said: 'It executes people for sex outside marriage, for religious conversion, for a lot of other things.
'We have very little to say about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia because of the economic link-up with them.'
Respect MP George Galloway (Bradford West) said: 'The last people who should be returning to the scene of their former crimes are Britain, France and the United States of America.'
Conservative John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) said: 'There are certain questions that remain unanswered.
'There is a real danger here that without a coordinated military plan that we are going to go up a cul-de-sac with no successful exit strategy.'
Labour's Paul Flynn (Newport West) said: 'This motion is the thin end of a bloody and ugly wedge that will grow and expand and mission creep into a prolonged war with unforeseeable consequences.'