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British Military Strike Against Syria Ruled Out, Says PM's Close Ally

posted 1 Sept 2013, 03:57 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 1 Sept 2013, 03:58 ]

British Prime Minister David Cameron's closest ally, Chancellor George Osborne, says a vote by lawmakers in the British House of Commons means a military strike against Syria is no longer an option.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (SEPTEMBER 1, 2013) (BBC ANDREW MARR SHOW) -  British Prime Minister David Cameron's closest political ally suggested on Sunday (September 1) that a vote in the House of Commons last week over Syria ruled out any military strike by the UK against President Bashar al-Assad.

Cameron lost a motion supporting military action in principle by just 13 votes during a debate by Members of Parliament

Speaking on Sunday on a political affairs programme, the Andrew Marr Show, on the BBC, Chancellor George Osborne said he accepted that plans to strike against Assad after blaming him for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs earlier in August that killed hundreds of civilians were not now possible.

"The PM doing what no previous PM had done, which is actively seeking the involvement and the consent of the British Parliament in a very difficult set of issues and then respecting the verdict of parliament...I think parliament has spoken ...the MPs I spoke to, as I say the Labour Party will always look at this opportunistically, the Conservative MPs and the Liberal Democrats who couldn't support us, they have a deep scepticism about military involvement and I don't think another UN report or whatever would make a difference. Of course I wanted us to be part of a potential military response. Now that is just not going to be open to us now," said Osborne, who as Chancellor holds Britain's finance brief.

Cameron's inability to determine Britain's foreign policy and join Washington and Paris in strikes against Syria will strain the "special relationship" with the United States - the foundation of Britain's global role since World War Two.

It is a stunning reversal in international affairs, after a decade in which Britain was the only major power to join the United States on the battlefield in Iraq, and by far its most important comrade in arms in Afghanistan.

"I hope it isn't a great historical moment people like myself and many others who want Britain to be an outward looking, open nation that is confident of trying to shape the world around it are going to go out there and win this argument, I mean clearly this argument is up for grabs at the moment," Osborne said.

U.S. President Barack Obama's announced on Saturday (August 31) that he would seek authorisation from lawmakers before any strike against Syria.

Asked whether this situation helped alleviate the embarrassment of being defeated in parliament, Osborne declined:

"I'm not particularly embarrassed and I'm not looking for political cover. What I am looking for is an outcome that is going to stop the use of chemical weapons and I think what Barack Obama has done is consistent with our set of decisions ...Barack Obama is also a sort of post Iraq politician and he's living with the legacy of his own country and the way decisions have been taken ten years ago in America. We live with the legacy in the way that decisions have been taken ten years ago . David Cameron and Barack Obama are leaders that are trying to learn from that experience and trying to take people with them.

Domestically, Thursday's defeat was the heaviest Cameron has suffered in his three years in power. It underlined his failure to pacify malcontents in his ruling Conservative party who complain he doesn't listen to them.