PM: No plans for new Syria vote
David Cameron has firmly rejected pressure to go back to Parliament in a fresh attempt to seek MPs' approval for British involvement in military action in Syria, despite Labour holding the door open for a possible second debate following the Prime Minister's dramatic defeat last Thursday.
Downing Street said the PM had "absolutely no plans" to force a new vote, while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he "could not foresee any circumstances" in which MPs would be asked to rethink their opposition. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told the House of Commons that circumstances would have to change "very significantly" for the issue to be revisited.
Meanwhile, Number 10 indicated that Britain is not expecting its military bases - such as RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, less than 200 miles from Syria - to be used by allies in any air strikes in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Mr Cameron's official spokesman declined to say whether intelligence assets such as information from the defence listening post on Cyprus would be put at the disposal of the US, but said that the UK had not received any requests from allies for the use of bases "and nor are we expecting any".
The Prime Minister has come under pressure from senior Conservatives not to rule out a second vote on Syria in the light of US Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement that Washington has obtained evidence from blood and hair samples of sarin gas use against civilians by the Assad regime. Congress is expected to vote next week on proposals from President Barack Obama for a punitive military response, possibly involving missile strikes on selected regime targets.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the Government should call a fresh debate if there was "new and better evidence that inculpates Assad", while former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "I think it's very important in this rapidly moving situation that we don't rule anything out. It may be, after lengthy and careful consideration, Congress affirms its support for the president's plans and, in the light of that, our Parliament may want to consider this matter further."
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna told the BBC that if Mr Cameron decided to make a second attempt to obtain a mandate for action, then Labour "as a responsible Opposition, of course... would consider that and we would be applying exactly the same criteria as we set out last week".
But Mr Cameron's spokesman told reporters: "Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament."
And Mr Clegg said: "We're not going to keep asking the same question of Parliament again and again. We live in a democracy, the executive cannot act in a way which clearly is not welcome to Parliament or the British people, so we're not proposing to do so."
An ICM poll for the BBC found that 71% of voters thought MPs were right to stop the British Government participating in an international military response, while 20% thought they were wrong. Another poll by ICM, for The Independent, suggested the British public is opposed to the US going ahead with strikes without the UK's participation by 57% to 29%. Almost two-thirds (62%) said Britain should keep out of military conflict "for the foreseeable future" because of the experience of the Iraq war. And more than half (54%) said Mr Cameron's stance showed he was "out of touch with Britain". ComRes interviewed 1,000 British adults by telephone between August 30 and September 1.
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