Islington MPs split in vote over air strikes on Isil in Iraq

Islingon's Labour Party MPs Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn

Islingon's Labour Party MPs Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn - Credit: Archant

Air strikes against extremist group Isil divided Islington’s Labour MPs last week when Parliament voted to take military action in Iraq for the second time in 11 years.

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn was a teller for the no vote last Friday while Islington South and Finsbury MP and shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry made her case for joining in with the strikes against the religious extremists.

The vote, which saw 524 ayes and just 43 noes, came after a month where Isil released videos of British, French and US hostages being beheaded, and after the Iraqi government asked for help.

Responsibility

Both MPs were against the war in Iraq in 2003 but Ms Thornberry said that things were different this time around.


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“Even though I was against us going into Iraq the fact is we did and we have a responsibility for what’s happened in Iraq and what is essentially a baby democracy,” she said.

“It’s a very different situation that we’re talking about now, they’ve asked for our help.

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“ISIS [Isil] is a horrible murderous organisation, it is growing in the centre of Iraq – Iraq is now a newly democratic country, a weak democratic country and it can do without this terrible caliphate which is trying to establish itself.

“ISIS [Isil] have got themselves into a place where they feel invincible and if the international community do nothing it will have a knock-on effect.”

But Mr Corbyn, who is an elected member of the Stop the War Coalition steering group, argued that air strikes would only strengthen Isil and lead to civilian casualties.

“[I voted no] because I couldn’t see how this is going to solve the problem of Isil, I could see this extending into a war with Syria, I could see it extending in to ground forces and I could see it creating a sense of martyrdom within Isil and increasing their strength not weakening them.

“The bitterness that’s going to come from civilian deaths from collateral damage is going to be huge. I think this hasn’t been thought through.”

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