‘Theresa May was right to launch air strikes on Syria’ – says Portsmouth City Council leader

Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Simon Dawson/PA Wire.
Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Simon Dawson/PA Wire.
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MPs and the leader of Portsmouth City Council have reacted to Theresa May’s decision to launch missile strikes on Syria.

The UK, US and France have launched co-ordinated air strikes following a ‘despicable’ chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma on April 7.

It is believed the Syrian regime, run by the country’s president – Bashar al-Assad – is responsible for the attack on its people.

Prime minister Theresa May said the decision to launch the strikes was not taken lightly, but she believed it to be in the UK’s national interest.

Portsmouth City Council leader, Donna Jones, said: ‘I think it’s right and proper that a strong and speedy response was taken to yet another example of chemical weapons being used by the Syrian government.

‘A strong and effective response from the west sends a clear message to the rest of the world, that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.’

When asked if she believes the prime minister is ‘trailing’ US president Donald Trump in making the decision, as stated by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, Cllr Jones added: ‘The people who are saying that are naive and don’t understand the complex relationship between the strongest members of Nato.

‘This has to be a joint, coordinated strike and it’s right and proper the prime minister waited, and consulted with Britain’s strongest ally – America.’

Strikes were launched at 2am at three sites connected with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons programme.

The first strike was at a scientific research centre in greater Damascus involved in the development and production of chemical weapons, the second at a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs, and the third at a chemical equipment storage facility and important command post.

MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said: ‘My thoughts are with all service personnel called to action in Syria last night.

‘In condemning in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week’s attack, we must now work with international partners to develop a strategy to deliver peace, and avoid dangerous escalation.

‘Our priority should be protecting civilians and tackling the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

‘I hope the government will now come forward with a clear plan for delivering aid and protecting civilians.’

Syrian state-run TV said three civilians have been wounded in the missile attack on a military base in Homs.

Mrs May added that every possible diplomatic channel had been explored prior to the strikes.

Syrian state TV called the attacks a ‘blatant violation of international law and shows contempt for international legitimacy’.

The MP for Havant, Alan Mak, has also issued his support for Theresa May.

He said on Twitter: ‘Limited and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use. I strongly support Theresa May’s decision, and my thoughts are with our UK armed forces and intelligence services involved, and our allies.’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the air strikes ‘legally questionable’ and said May should have sought parliamentary approval for the strikes, instead of ‘trailing after Donald Trump’.

He said Britain should not be taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the move shows a weak government, putting short-term political expediency before democracy and in so doing further diminishing the standing of Britain in the world.

At a press conference in Downing Street, Mrs May said: ‘There is no graver decision for a prime minister than to commit our forces to combat and this is the first time I have had to do so.

‘As always, they have served our country with the greatest professionalism and bravery, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.’