UK PM faces lawmakers' criticism for not recalling parliament before attacks on Syria

Updated 2018-04-17 15:34:59 Xinhua

British Prime Minister Theresa May refused on Monday to give lawmakers a guarantee that she would seek parliamentary approval ahead of any further strikes in Syria.

May faced criticism in the British House of Commons for not recalling Parliament before she sanctioned weekend missile attacks by the Royal Air Force on Syria.

She was attacked from opposition politicians as well as at least one of her own Conservatives as she gave a report on the weekend air strikes by Britain, the U.S. and France.

In her speech, May said the targeted attacks were justified without first getting the go-ahead from parliament.

May said her government had to act intervene rapidly following reports of an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, called for a War Powers Act to ensure future military action would only be taken if parliament approved of action.

He added that the weekend attacks were legally questionable, telling May that she was accountable to the British parliament and not to the whims of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Labor veteran MP Hilary Benn asked May for an assurance that if she has to order another air strike in Syria, she will come to parliament first.

May said she recognized the importance of consulting parliament, but added there will always be circumstances where the government is able to act for operational reasons without first having a debate in parliament. When that happens, she said the government should come to parliament at the earliest opportunity.

Ian Blackford, the Scottish Nationalist Party leader at Westminster, also told May she should have recalled parliament before the attacks.

He asked her if she would consult parliament first ahead of future strikes if there are further chemical weapons attacks. May again said it is not always possible to consult parliament first.

During the debate, May also insisted that at no point had Trump "instructed her to take military action", adding it was her decision to order military action to enforce norms against the use of chemical weapons.

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