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Richard Arkless MP: 'Over 96% of the constituents who contacted me asked me to vote against air strikes'

SNP MP Richard Arkless Credit: ITV Border

SNP MP Richard Arkless yesterday voted against David Cameron’s proposals for military escalation, including airstrikes, in Syria.

The House of Commons debated the subject for over 10 hours during the course of Wednesday and in the final vote MPs voted to support air strikes over Syria by 397 votes to 223.

Mr. Arkless said:

The Prime Minister did not make a convincing case for air strikes and I was proud to add my name to the cross-party amendment calling for the government to support a political solution rather than a military response to the situation in Syria.

The SNP has always taken the position that we would not support the extension of military action in Syria if the Prime Minister failed to answer the key questions posed to him by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. By a majority, the committee found that he had not addressed these concerns.

This issue has been hugely emotive for my constituents and over the last week I have been overwhelmed with letters, emails, telephone calls and messages from people all over Dumfries and Galloway expressing their concerns about military action in Syria. It was very clear to me that the vast majority of people wanted me to vote against the strikes and I support them in this view. Over 96% of the constituents who contacted me asked me to vote against air strikes and having looked at all the evidence, that is what I decided to do.

– MP Richard Arkless

Border region's MPs vote on Syria air strikes

Ground crew work on a RAF Tornado GR4. Credit: PA

In Cumbria four MPs have voted in favour of air strikes against so-called IS targets in Syria, while one MP voted against.

In the south of Scotland, two MPs voted against air strikes, while one MP voted in favour:

MPs who voted in favour of air strikes against IS targets. Credit: ITV Border
MPs who voted against carrying out air strikes. Credit: ITV Border

UK Airstrikes in Syria: What people in the Border region think

We've been out in Carlisle city centre canvassing opinions on the debate raging in the House of Commons today:

"If we air strike on Syria it's gonna have a massive impact on the UK. Probably not up here but certainly in the major cities, you know, it's retaliation that they thrive on, and they will just, you know, we'll feel it hard like Paris has, and like everyone else has."

"I think I'm for it to be honest. I think we need to do something rather than nothing, whether, it needs to be with a coalition and everything else of course, we can't just go it alone."

"War just gets war. It'll go on and on and on won't it. No I think there's too many people gonna suffer that shouldn't be suffering as well. No I think they've got to find another way around it."


Border region's MPs set to vote on Syria airstrikes this evening

David Cameron facing the opposition benches Credit: PA

This evening MPs will vote on whether to take military action in Syria. It's a subject that's dividing opinion in Parliament and here in the region.

David Cameron has called on MPs to back airstrikes against the 'evil' of so-called Islamic State in Syria. The matter is currently being debated in the House of Commons and the region's MPs will be voting on the matter at 10pm tonight.

Dumfries MP David Mundell returns from Syrian refugee camp

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell visited a Syrian refugee camp in eastern Turkey as part of a fact finding trip to better understand the continuing humanitarian crisis.

The visit also provided an opportunity to see firsthand the work that is taking place to support refugees as a result of generosity in the UK and around the world.

“The bustling Turkish City of Gaziantep gives away no obvious sign that it is only an hour’s drive from the bloody conflict that is turning Syria into one of the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

"Other countries can learn a great deal from how the Turks have dealt with their guests, the term they use rather than refugees...However, the answer from everyone I asked about what more we could do to improve the conditions for them as refugees, was simply whilst they were grateful for our support, what they wanted was the end of the conflict."

– David Mundell MP

Castle Douglas author returns from war-torn Syria

The conflict in Syria may seem a long way from here, but one man from our region has seen its devastating effects first hand.

In-fighting between rebel forces and the Assad government has forced millions of refugees to flee the war-torn country, many of them children.

The author Robin Yassin-Kassab lives in Castle Douglas, in Galloway.

His father is Syrian, and Robin's just returned from ten days at the Turkish border, helping to clothe and feed as many children as possible during a bleak and freezing winter.

Earlier I spoke to him, and Ian spoke with him, asking him why he felt compelled to go and help.

Full Report: Writer fundraises for Syrian refugees

An author from Southern Scotland heads to Syria this week to help refugee children caught up in the country's conflict.

Robin Yassin-Kassab, whose father is Syrian, is part of an international group raising thousands of pounds to provide supplies for refugees facing up to winter without homes, food or adequate clothing.

And as Ryan Dollard found out this afternoon, they have taken a novel approach to stand out from other charity appeals this Christmas.

Watch his full report below.

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