Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader will make it much more difficult for David Cameron to bring a vote to the House of Commons authorising British involvement in air strikes against the so-called Islamic State in Syria. That’s the received wisdom, anyway, but is it true? Tom Newton Dunn reported in the Sun this week that ‘dozens’ of Labour MPs were prepared to defy their party whip if it forbade support for action in Syria, which would mean the government would be able to cobble together a majority of Conservative MPs and Labourites, even if a group of Tories defied their whip.
Yesterday the Prime Minister told the Commons that the work to remove both Assad and Isil would ‘on occasion, require hard military action’. This line was tacked onto the end of the answer to Harriet Harman’s final question about British engagement with the rest of the world, and was clearly part of Cameron’s attempts to make the case for British action in Syria. His spokespeople have made clear that he will not return to the Commons with a motion on Syria unless there is ‘consensus’ – but does this consensus need to include the leader of the Labour party if there is a Commons majority on the matter? A Number 10 source would only say ‘let’s cross that bridge when we come to it’ when asked after Cameron’s latest point on that matter.