Speaking in the emergency debate on Syria, Catherine West MP argued there had been plenty of time for the Prime Minister to recall parliament to debate a military attack on Syria. Reminding the government that the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Iraq has haunted political debates for years, she said:
The role of parliament is important because there is an element of having to persuade not only one another but the country of our views, our principles and our ideas. That is an important principle that came out of the very lengthy Chilcot inquiry.…Today, we have to reflect on what we have learned from the report, not just about the importance of parliament and our role in scrutinising the Executive, but about two other key elements.
One of those involves the need for a plan. My hon Friend the Member for Wirral South [Alison McGovern MP, co-chair All Party Friends of Syria group – ed] made a fantastic speech yesterday in which she mentioned the cross-party group on Syria and its steadfast commitment to the Syrian people. She spoke about the importance of having a plan, and one of the sticking points over the past week has been the lack of a sense of what we should do next. There has been a sense of ‘this feels fine for this weekend, but what happens next?’
The second element is the need for high-quality intelligence and evidence. This goes back to what was crudely referred to as the ‘dodgy dossier’, which has haunted us in our political debates from many years. We still need to ask those questions. Many of us will make no apology for asking questions. That is our job as back-bench members, whatever role we might have…. there was plenty of time last week to recall parliament, and I wish that we had had yesterday’s debate—perhaps not with every single security detail—at that point.
Many of us could have taken losing a vote—or, indeed, winning a vote. Whatever might have happened with that vote, at least we would have done what we always do, which is to debate, to contend, to get cross, to get sad, or to get happy. We would have done what we do in this place and gone through the lobby to produce a result for the people we represent.
Catherine West MP discussed the UK attack on Syria on the BBC’s Daily Politics. Listen to what she had to say here