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Conservative MP: Today we need to make clear why we wouldn’t back unilateral action on Syria

Sarah Wollaston: "People are right to fear that it would risk escalating into a wider conflict with many more deaths" Photo: Sarah Wollaston

In an article for ITV News, Conservative backbencher Dr Sarah Wollaston explains why she will not be backing the Government's motion on Syria today.

Parliament has already done its job in applying the brakes to the headlong rush into military intervention in Syria.

It was clear that the majority of MPs would not be prepared to back unilateral action by the US and Britain. Today we need to make clear why.

I wrote about my own concerns on my website and asked constituents for their views. The response was overwhelmingly opposed to intervention, not because people want to 'turn away' or 'appease' but because they do not believe that dropping bombs on Syria can achieve the stated aims of intervention let alone a lasting peace.

People are right to fear that it would risk escalating into a wider conflict with many more deaths, unlimited costs and no exit strategy.

The motion has now been downgraded to a long list of points.

There is no argument about many of them but there lies within it a dangerous assertion that military intervention is justified.

I welcome the fact that a second vote would be required to sanction force but agreeing to action in principle would make it harder to reject the next vote.

UN chemical weapons experts are in Syria assessing sites of alleged attacks Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abdullah

I see no evidence that unilateral intervention would succeed but plenty that it would risk wider escalation, resentment and disempowerment of the groups who need to find lasting solutions like the Arab League.

Lasting peace must come from the region itself not from the West dropping bombs. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, war would be easier to start than finish and leave a legacy of resentment acting as a recruiting sergeant for extremists.

The world's policeman looked the other way when Saddam systematically used chemical weapons against Iran in 1985 and 1986.

The US almost certainly deployed weaponised white phosphorus itself in Iraq and no one should be in any doubt about the effects of that chemical as it sticks to skin and burns through to bone.

The world's policeman is also selling cluster bombs to Saudi, weapons which continue to kill and maim civilians long after the combatants have departed.

Humanitarian assistance does not include bombing in my opinion which is why I continue to be wary of the new motion before the Commons this afternoon.

Dr Sarah Wollaston is the Conservative MP for Totnes. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.

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