Scottish nationalists to oppose any UK anti-ISIS air strikes in Syria

Reuters , Friday 16 Oct 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the House of Commons on Sept. 26, 2014, urging lawmakers to vote in favor of Britain joining US-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq. (Photo: Reuters)

Scottish National Party (SNP) lawmakers, who form the third-largest bloc in the British parliament, will oppose any move by Prime Minister David Cameron to win parliamentary approval for Britain to attack ISIS in Syria, the party said on Friday.

Cameron is keen for Britain to begin its own air strikes in Syria, joining allies in a US-led coalition against ISIS, a self-declared caliphate spanning large areas of Syria and neighbouring Iraq. British bombing as part of the coalition so far has only targeted ISIS in Iraq.

The SNP stance complicates the issue for Cameron, who has said he will only seek the approval of parliament if he has a consensus among lawmakers. He has not detailed what level of support would constitute a consensus.

"There should be no more futile military interventions by the UK ... Let us argue for a policy which focuses on the needs of the Syrian people," foreign affairs spokesman and former Scottish leader Alex Salmond told a gathering of the nationalist SNP in Aberdeen.

Activists at the conference backed Salmond, passing a motion stating the party opposed British participation in air strikes in Syria and that such action would be militarily irrelevant and cause further suffering. It said only a United Nations-backed initiative could end the country's civil war.

The SNP form the third-largest bloc in Westminster, holding 55 of 650 seats. The party has previously expressed scepticism over military action in Syria and in 2014 was the only party to oppose British air strikes against ISIS in Iraq.

The main opposition Labour Party, which has 232 seats, is split on the issue, with a number of moderates signalling they are ready to defy their peace-campaigner leader Jeremy Corbyn and vote in favour of air strikes.

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