Clashes between Cameron and Clegg over Syria
A rift between prime minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg could be developing over Syria after the latter announced his opposition to the idea of intervention on Sunday night’s Andrew Marr Show.
Clegg said “the idea that we can provide a unilateral British solution to the problem is fanciful”, but he did stress that the prime minister and himself were involved in “ongoing” talks and they both agreed they wanted to “strike the right balance” between providing support to the opposition who “deserve support” without “embroiling [Britain]…in a military conflict”.
Cameron’s position appears to have softened in recent days and this is perhaps under pressure from both his deputy and senior military officials. Cameron told the House of Commons in an address yesterday that Britain wouldn’t be “plunging recklessly” into military action and said he would “think carefully” before deciding what course to take.
However, in a statement that was seemingly contradictory to this notion and that will have alerted opponents of intervention, Cameron insisted that the Government reserved the right to “take action very swiftly”. This has raised the prospect that Britain could enter into a military intervention without the agreement of the House of Commons.
This is particularly telling, given that the Sunday Times found that as many as two-thirds of Tory MPs would oppose arming Syrian opposition forces, and both the Liberal Democrats and Labour are seemingly against the idea.
Cameron’s announcement to MPs contained other hints that military intervention remains a possibility, with the Prime Minister saying: “We simply cannot ignore this continuing slaughter.” A peace summit has been agreed at the G8 to take place in August.
It seems that the Prime Minister is unwilling to rule out the prospect of military action if a political solution cannot be found, despite the political opposition from Clegg and others.