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Syria: Will Britain change tack too?

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Downing Street says America's airstrikes against the Syrian regime are an "appropriate response" - but are they a response that Britain will be making itself?

Speaking to me this morning the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the US had Britain's full support. But two things were clear: Britain was not asked to participate in the strikes, and Britain does not intend to participate in future.

For the British government, the question remains settled by a vote taken in parliament in 2013, when MPs were asked whether or not the UK should target President Assad's forces. The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, was famously forced into an embarrassing defeat, as Labour swerved in their support and blocked the strikes under the leadership of Ed Miliband.

Many MPs - Conservative and Labour - still feel angry about that decision, believing that it has allowed the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. But it is a decision which still stands. This morning the Defence Secretary said he has no plans to put the matter to parliament again.

Instead, the British government still seeks a 'political solution' to the conflict. And it does not appear as if the American President - the head of state who typically exerts the most influence over British foreign policy - is applying any particular pressure on Britain to change tack.

Instead, that pressure comes from the likes of the Liberal Democrats. Not typically a hawkish party, their leader Tim Farron has said "We cannot stand by, we must act." He wants more strikes, not fewer.

But the chances of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a lifetime peace activist, ever supporting military action are remote to say the least. He's said the US air strikes only risk escalating the conflict. That means for the government, the numbers probably still don't stack up, killing off the idea of another vote in parliament.

So while America escalates its action - even if the strikes were a one off - Britain remains stuck in stalemate.

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