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10:15 20 July
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British PM May defends Syria strikes against parliament critics


British Prime Minister Theresa May defended on Monday her decision to launch air strikes against Syria, answering criticism over her bypassing of parliament by saying lawmakers could now hold her to account, APA reports quoting Reuters.

 

May, who has regained confidence after winning support for her tough stance on Syria and Russia, said she was driven by the need to decide quickly on joining the United States and France in Saturday’s strikes, made in retaliation for a suspected gas attack.

 

Saying she had no doubt the “Syrian regime” was behind an attack which she called a “stain on humanity”, May told lawmakers she had acted in the national interest and refused to say whether she would seek their approval for further action.

 

“I’m absolutely clear that it is parliament’s responsibility to hold me to account for such decisions and parliament will do so,” she told the House of Commons in a rowdy session that laid bare divisions over the military action. “But it is my responsibility as prime minister to make these decisions and I will make them.”

 

May has weathered months of doubt over her leadership due to rows over Brexit and an ill-judged decision to call an early election when her Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority. She is now enjoying international support for her action in Syria and against Moscow over a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

 

Still, she has had to tread carefully in parliament, where she now relies on a small Northern Irish party to get enough votes to pass legislation, and has worked hard to offer lawmakers, angry about being sidelined, time to discuss the Syrian action.

 

Ian Blackford, the leader of the opposition Scottish National Party in Westminster, was one of many who asked May why she had not recalled parliament for a vote, breaking with a convention dating back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

 

The prime minister leads a minority government,” he said.

“It was perfectly possible for the house to have been recalled in advance, why was this not done?”

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