Labour MPs who back air strikes will be blamed if there are more terrorist attacks, says Norwich South’s Clive Lewis

Norwich South election count at St Andrews Hall, Norwich. Labour candidate Clive Lewis. Photo: Steve

Norwich South election count at St Andrews Hall, Norwich. Labour candidate Clive Lewis. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has suggested Labour MPs who vote in favour of extending air strikes into Syria will be blamed if there are more terrorist atrocities.

The shadow minister, who backed Jeremy Corbyn to be leader of the Labour Party, told the Today programme that if the war extended and there was a conflagration, Labour MPs would have to 'step forward' when blame was apportioned.

He said: 'If there are members of the PLP that want to bomb in Syria and vote with the Tories, then on their heads be it.

'They've made that decision, I respect that decision in the sense that they have come to the conclusion they have. But if the war in Syria extends, there is a conflagration, there are more terrorist atrocities and the war extends with no end then obviously we will be looking at who voted for this and when the blame is apportioned step forward.'

But Conservative Keith Simpson, a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, said: 'I think Clive Lewis needs a reality check. Isil are already plotting attacks on the UK and the task the Government faces and the intelligence and security agencies is to prevent attacks they are planning now. I think it was very unfortunate that he should suggest that MPs who might support air strikes against such Isil planning cells were actually going to encourage terrorists attacks.'

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RAF war planes are gearing up to launch air strikes against the militants in their heartland and parliamentary schedules are being cleared on Wednesday to allow MPs a full debate on the plans.

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, who is at odds with leader Mr Corbyn over intervention, said the danger IS - also known as Isis, Isil and Daesh - posed to the UK meant he was backing the government.

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He said: 'I have reached the conclusion that we need to take this action because there is a clear and present threat from Isil/Daesh.'

Mr Corbyn was forced to give Labour MPs a free vote in the face of a threatened revolt during a stormy meeting of the shadow cabinet.

The climbdown was seen at Westminster as a crushing humiliation for the Labour leader - who was reportedly shouted at by shadow ministers - after he made clear at the weekend he would decide whether the party's MPs would be whipped or allowed to vote with consciences.

Mr Benn said it was 'to the great credit of Jeremy as a leader' that he had allowed a free vote. 'People of principle can reach different decisions about how to deal with the threat,' he said.

Asked about speculation he could replace Mr Corbyn as party leader, he replied: 'I have no interest in leading the Labour Party. I'm doing my job as shadow foreign secretary to the best of my ability.'

Conservative MP David Davis said former Stop the War Coalition chairman Mr Corbyn's decision to allow a free vote had handed a majority to the Prime Minister.

'The thing that's triggered this has been Jeremy Corbyn's decision to have a free vote on this, the Labour Party disunity. However you want to put it, that's what's given David Cameron a guaranteed majority.'

It is thought the first bombing missions could take place before the end of the week if the Commons votes on Wednesday in favour of extending the current action against IS in Iraq into neighbouring Syria.

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