Yvette Cooper: UK can’t leave it to others to take on IS

Labour MPs behind Jeremy Corbyn  during the debate in the House of Commons on extending the bombing campaign against Islamic State to Syria.
Labour MPs behind Jeremy Corbyn during the debate in the House of Commons on extending the bombing campaign against Islamic State to Syria.
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BRITAIN cannot “leave it to other countries to take the strain”, former shadow home secretary and Yorkshire MP Yvette Cooper has said, as she backed the Government’s call for air strikes in Syria.

But Ms Cooper, who lost her Labour leadership bid to Jeremy Corbyn, said she did not support an open ended commitment to air strikes, adding that “if it isn’t working in six months of if it proves counter productive we should be ready to review and we should also be ready to withdraw”.

The MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford also urged the Government to accept her argument that Britain “should also do more to be part of supporting sanctuary for refugees who are fleeing that conflict too”.

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Ms Cooper said: “I do not believe that the Prime Minister has made the most effective case and so I understand why many in this House feel that they are not yet convinced, but I also feel that I cannot say that the coalition air strikes that are under way already in both Syria and Iraq should somehow stop and if they are not to stop and France has asked for our help I do not think that we can say no.”

She added: “So I think that there are changes that need to be made to the Government’s approach and I will argue for them and I think there are more limits in the approach they need to take but I will also vote with the Government on this motion tonight even though I recognise how difficult that is for so many of us.”

Ms Cooper said she disagreed with the suggestion that “somehow there are 70,000 troops who are going to step in and the purpose of these air strikes is to provide air cover for those troops to be able to take on and defeat Daesh because we know that that’s not going to happen any time soon”.

Isis she said was not going to be part of the peace process as they were a “death cult that glorifies suicide and slaughter”.

She added: “I don’t think that the coalition can simply stand back and give them free reign while we work on that vital peace process.”

Ms Cooper said she did not think Britain “can leave it to other countries to take the strain” or ignore the advice from security experts that without coalition air strikes over the next 12 months the threat from Daesh in the region but also in Europe and Britain would be much greater.

She said: “I think we have to do our bit to try to contain that threat.”

Ms Cooper said Britain needed to have more limited objectives, in self defence, to support the peace process but not just to create a vacuum for “Assad to sweep into”.

Civilian protection should be a central objective.

She said: “I think tonight we should lend the Government support and keep that under review, not to give them an open ended commitment that this should carry on whatever the consequences might be.”

She added: “None of us however we vote tonight are terrorist sympathisers and none of us will have blood on our hands, the blood has been drawn by Isis, Daesh in Paris across the world and that is who we must stand against.”

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