Letter to David Cameron about military airstrikes on Syria:

The Prime Minister

10 Downing Street



Friday 27th November 2015

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you for your statement to Parliament yesterday.

As I said in my question to you, I believe the Government has made a strong moral and legal case for the UK joining military airstrikes to defeat the totalitarianism of ISIS; the remaining questions are practical ones.

Given the complexity of the situation in Syria, and the record of past interventions, I know you will appreciate the importance of Parliament being able to consider the detailed strategy in advance of any motion being drawn up or put before the House, and therefore I am writing to ask for direct briefings, including security briefings for Privy Counsellors, to be held as swiftly as possibly.

You will be aware from yesterday’s exchanges in the Commons that MPs need further information and assurances on some important questions:


  • On which ground troops UK airstrikes will be seeking to support.

  • On the strategy to prevent airstrikes against ISIS strengthening President Assad's position in the Syrian Civil War and as a result strengthening recruitment for ISIS.

  • On how Sunni Muslims will be involved in the international peace process.

  • And on the strategy to safeguard those at risk of becoming refugees.


I am concerned that very few Members of Parliament have been given detailed briefing by the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence on this, and even fewer have had access to full security briefings. That makes it very difficult for MPs to contribute to the Government's consideration of what form any motion should take, as well as to respond to the motion. For example despite several inquiries I have been advised that the only briefing on offer is a general one from the MoD next Wednesday. I'm sure you would agree that this is insufficient - especially as there are suggestions that the Government is considering holding the vote on Wednesday.

Given the gravity of this issue, I am writing to ask you to arrange joint Foreign Office and MoD briefings for all MPs on Monday in advance of your decision on tabling a motion.

And in addition, I believe it is essential that all Privy Counsellors, and not just the Party Leadership, are offered a detailed security briefing at the earliest opportunity, before the end of Monday and before any motion is finalised.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP

Member of Parliament for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford

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