PM calls for Syria robust response
A "robust response" to Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons in Syria is needed even though British military involvement had been ruled out, David Cameron said.
The Prime Minister suffered a humiliating defeat in the Commons on Thursday night as MPs rejected a motion on the principle that military action could be required to protect Syrian civilians. But he insisted the UK remains "deeply engaged" on the world stage despite the blow dealt by MPs.
Speaking in Downing Street, he said it was a "regret" that he had been unable to build a consensus on the response to the atrocity in Syria.
Mr Cameron said: "I think it's important we have a robust response to the use of chemical weapons and there are a series of things we will continue to do.
"We will continue to take a case to the United Nations, we will continue to work in all the organisations we are members of - whether the EU, or Nato, or the G8 or the G20 - to condemn what's happened in Syria. It's important we uphold the international taboo on the use of chemical weapons.
"But one thing that was proposed, the potential - only after another vote - involvement of the British military in any action, that won't be happening. That won't be happening because the British Parliament, reflecting the great scepticism of the British people about any involvement in the Middle East, and I understand that, that part of it won't be going ahead."
Mr Cameron said he would not have to apologise to US President Barack Obama for his inability to commit British forces to any coalition. Ministers have suggested the Commons defeat could put a strain on the special relationship with Washington after the US made a request for British help. But Mr Cameron, who has not spoken to the president since the vote, said: "I don't think it's a question of having to apologise."
The Prime Minister acknowledged "politics is difficult" as he set out the reasons behind the decision to recall Parliament for the vote on Syria. He said he wanted to act "in the right way".
He said: "I was faced with three things I wanted to do right and do in the right way. First of all, to condemn absolutely and respond properly to an appalling war crime that took place in Syria. Secondly, to work with our strongest and most important ally who had made a request for British help.
"Thirdly, to act as a democrat, to act in a different way to previous prime ministers and properly consult Parliament. I wanted to do all those three things. Obviously politics is difficult - that involved going to Parliament, making an argument in a strong and principled way but then listening to Parliament. I think the American people and President Obama will understand that."