Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Government of “waiting for instructions” from Donald Trump on what to do over Syria.
The Labour leader said the US president was giving “contradictory signals” and called for a UN-led investigation into the suspected chemical attack in Douma, outside the capital of Damascus, which killed scores of people.
On Thursday, Theresa May won the backing of senior ministers on her ‘War Cabinet’ for action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as she and Trump agreed that the use of chemical weapons must not go unchallenged.
Ministers had agreed it was “highly likely” Assad was responsible for the attack on Saturday on the rebel-held town of Douma – which reportedly left dozens dead, including children. Assad, as well as his allies in Iran and Russia, deny they were behind the strike.
On Friday, Corbyn said: “Further UK military intervention in Syria’s appalling multi-sided war risks escalating an already devastating conflict.
“The Government appears to be waiting for instructions from President Donald Trump on how to proceed. But the US administration is giving alarmingly contradictory signals.
“Even US defence secretary James Mattis has said we ‘don’t have evidence’ and warned further military action could ‘escalate out of control’.”
Corbyn added: “Ministers should take their proposals, such as they are, to parliament. Britain should press for an independent UN-led investigation of last weekend’s horrific chemical weapons attack so that those responsible can be held to account.
“Rather than further military action, what is urgently needed is a coordinated international drive to achieve a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement under UN auspices. The humanitarian priority must be to halt the killing on all sides.
“The need to restart genuine negotiations for peace and an inclusive political settlement of the Syrian conflict, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces, could not be more urgent. We must do everything we can, no matter how challenging, to bring that about.”
Previously, Corbyn had called for a parliamentary debate on any intervention in Syria.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said it would be “outrageous” if parliament were denied a chance to vote on the issue. She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The Tories used to think like that.
“The reason they are not doing it is they are frightened they will lose the vote.”
Pressed on whether there were any circumstances in which Labour would back military action in Syria, Abbott said: “What we are interested in is an end to the violence and we don’t believe that further bombing, in this situation, will bring an end to the violence.”