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'No plans' for second Syria vote
The Government has "absolutely no plans" to go back to Parliament in a fresh attempt to win MPs' backing for UK involvement in military action in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman has said.
Mr Cameron has come under pressure to call a second vote after US secretary of state John Kerry announced that the United States has evidence of sarin gas use by the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad. The US Congress is expected to vote next week on a punitive military response.
London Mayor Boris Johnson had suggested that a new motion could be put before Parliament if fresh proof came to light of Assad's culpability in the deadly attacks on civilians on August 21. But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he "could not foresee any circumstances" in which the Government would ask MPs to vote again, following their rejection of the PM's proposal for military action last Thursday.
And Mr Cameron's official spokesman told a daily Westminster media briefing: "Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament."
Mr Clegg said that he and Mr Cameron remain "completely convinced it was Assad's regime that used chemical weapons in that eastern suburb of Damascus the week before last", adding: "I personally think there's a case for Britain, on humanitarian grounds, to participate in deterrent action to stop the further use of these abhorrent and illegal weapons. But Parliament didn't agree."
He added: "We're not going to keep asking the same question of Parliament again and again. We live in a democracy, the executive cannot act in a way which clearly is not welcome to Parliament or the British people, so we're not proposing to do so. I can't foresee any circumstances that we would go back to Parliament on the same question, on the same issue."
Labour leader Ed Miliband's decision to oppose last week's Government motion has sparked a ferocious political slanging match. Mr Clegg accused Labour of using the House of Commons vote "as an opportunity to score party political points".
But shadow cabinet minister Chuka Umunna said allegations of political game-playing were "insulting" and insisted that the party would have a duty to consider any proposal if Mr Cameron did decide to return to Parliament over Syria.
On the possibility of a second debate, the shadow business secretary told the BBC that if Mr Cameron "were to choose to change his position and come back to Parliament and seek a new mandate to take action, then, as a responsible Opposition, of course we would consider that and we would be applying exactly the same criteria as we set out last week".
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said that there was a "natural majority" of Conservatives and Blairite Labour MPs in favour of "a calibrated and limited response to a grotesque war crime". "If there is new and better evidence that inculpates Assad, I see no reason why the Government should not lay a new motion before Parliament, inviting British participation - and then it is Ed Miliband, not David Cameron, who will face embarrassment," wrote the London Mayor.