David Cameron will set out his case for air strikes against IS in Syria to the Commons late next week. Cameron is, as I say in my Sun column today, immensely frustrated by the current British position of only bombing Islamic State in Iraq and not Syria. But he knows that it would be politically back breaking for him to lose another Commons vote on a matter of war and peace, so is proceeding cautiously.
But last night’s UN resolution has strengthened Cameron’s hand. Even before that, 30 Labour MPs were certain to back Cameron on this issue and another 30 were highly likely to. With a UN resolution now in place, these numbers are only likely to increase.
These Labour MPs should be more than enough to make up for the 15 or so Tory MPs who won’t vote for military action and should ensure a relatively comfortable margin of victory. This is important because Cameron wants a degree of political consensus before taking the country to war. In the past few days, Cabinet Ministers have been busy stressing that ‘You don’t want to go to war having won the vote by two or three.” However, Downing Street has given up on trying to get Jeremy Corbyn on board. One Number 10 aide says of him, he is “not going to vote for military action even if the Isle of Wight was invaded”
British involvement in air strikes has to be part of a massively stepped up military campaign against Islamic State. Military planners currently believe that these terrorists can be driven out of Iraq in 12 to 18 months, after which attention can turn to defeating them in Syria. But that is far too long a timetable.
Destroying Islamic State won’t, by itself, make us safe; there will still be days when cities have to be on high alert as Brussels is today. But there will be clear and pressing security threat as long as these terrorists have their own territory on Europe’s doorstep.