The Labour leader wrote to his MPs saying that the prime minister had failed earlier on Thursday to explain how an aerial campaign would protect UK security, setting up an intense debate in the party ahead of an expected Commons vote next week to broaden RAF airstrikes from Iraq to Syria. “I do not believe the prime minister’s current proposal for airstrikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it,” Corbyn wrote.
That set Corbyn at odds with Benn, who had earlier told a meeting of the shadow cabinet that the arguments in favour of extending the airstrikes were “compelling”. The shadow foreign secretary, who believes that the prime minister has fulfilled the conditions laid down in a motion passed at the Labour conference on Syria, also contradicted Corbyn in public.
Benn told the BBC: “We have heard compelling arguments both because of the threat to the United Kingdom and also because we are right to have been taking the action that we have in Iraq to support the Iraqi government in trying to repel the invasion from Isil/Daesh.”
This weekend Corbyn will seek to win the approval of the shadow cabinet to oppose an extension of the airstrikes. He is drawing up plans to reach over the heads of his frontbench with an appeal to a parliamentary Labour party meeting on Monday night, after winning the support of just four members of his shadow cabinet at a meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Jeremy Corbyn and shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn adopted sharply opposing views on UK military action against #Islamic State hours after David Cameron argued it was time to extend bombing to Syria .