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Chuka Umunna votes in favour of Syria air strikes


STREATHAM MP Chuka Umunna was amongst the 66 Labour MPs who voted in favour of air strikes in Syria following a marathon debate in the House of Commons yesterday.

RAF jets carried out their first wave of air strikes in the early hours of this morning (Dec 2) following the vote in which MPs voted 397 to 223 for military action.

Four RAF Tornado jets were seen taking off from the Akrotiri base in Cyprus and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) later confirmed they had carried out the "first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes."

The day-long debate, which went into the early hours of the morning, saw more than 150 MPs take the stand to debate the motion for action in response to the growing threat of terrorism and recent IS attacks in Paris.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who allowed Labour MPs a free vote amid deep divisions in his party, warned against an "ill-thought-out rush to war".

The majority of his shadow cabinet backed his anti-war stance, but 11 voted in favour.

Ahead of the vote Umunna - a former leadership candidate - wrote in great length to explain his decision to vote "according to one's conscience".

He said: "No one takes such decisions lightly. I certainly do not – my family abroad has experience of civil war (my uncles fought in the civil war in Nigeria in the 1960s) and my family at home here have experience of being targeted by terrorists."

Thanking Labour leader Corbyn for allowing a "free vote", the backbench MP said he had to vote in favour after weighing up all sides of the argument.

“I would not feel comfortable with us taking no action when we could help thwart and degrade this death cult from organising the systematic rape of women, beheading aid workers, throwing gay people off the top of buildings, carrying out crucifixions, mass executions and more,” he added.

“For these reasons, I will be voting to extend the military action into Syria. I reluctantly do so with no enthusiasm, but on balance the risks of inaction outweigh the risks of action in my view.”

Alongside Umunna, all five black British Conservative MPs voted in support of air strikes.

The motion passed with an overall majority of 174 and comes as a win for David Cameron.

In 2013, he was dealt a humbling blow after failing to secure Commons support for air strikes against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

In an online poll, 57 per cent of Voice readers voted against military action in Syria arguing it would make Britain a target and because "violence is never the answer".

Twenty-four per cent voted in favour of action while a further 18 per cent remained undecided.

-------------------------How did our black MPs vote?----------------------------------

Chuka Umunna/Lab (Streatham)
Adam Afriyie/Con (Windsor)
Kwasi Kwarteng/Con (Spelthorne)
Sam Gyimah/Con (Surrey East)
Helen Grant/Con (Maidstone and The Weald)
James Cleverly/Con (Braintree)

Diane Abbott/Lab (Hackney North and Stoke Newington)
Dawn Butler/Lab (Brent Central)
David Lammy/Lab (Tottenham)
Clive Lewis/Lab (Norwich South)
Chi Onwurah/Lab (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)
Kate Osamor/Lab (Edmonton)

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