Below is the text of a letter Sir George received from the Prime Minister with regards to the recent events in Syria.
THE PRIME MINISTER
I am writing to you about the events of the past week.
The scenes we saw in Damascus last week – the slaughter of men, women and children as a result of the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s regime – were shocking.
It remains my strong belief that we need to take a robust approach to an appalling war crime and to uphold the international taboo on the use of chemical weapons that has existed for almost one hundred years.
So when President Obama made a request to me for Britain to help deter the future use of chemical weapons, I wanted to support our strongest and most important ally.
But I am also a democrat. I believe in listening to Parliament. I was determined to learn from the mistakes made in the past over Iraq and I wanted to consult the House of Commons properly and proceed in as consensual a way as possible.
That’s why we put a resolution before the United Nations, called for the United Nations weapons inspectors to present their evidence to the Security Council and promised a second vote in Parliament before any action was taken.
But as I said in the House of Commons yesterday, in the end the British people and the British Parliament had to make a judgment. There is great scepticism about any involvement in the Middle East as people worry about our country getting sucked into the Syrian conflict. They don’t want British involvement in military action. I get that and I respect that.
We will continue to make the case at the United Nations to uphold the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. We will continue to work with all the organisations we are members of – whether NATO, the EU, the G8 or the G20 – to address what happened in Syria.
At home, we will remain focussed on turning Britain around and securing an economic recovery for everyone who wants to work hard and get on in life. That means continuing to cut the deficit, continuing to help create jobs and continuing to fix the welfare system so that it rewards work.
I know there were sincerely and powerfully-held views on all sides. I regret that I could not build a consensus – but the House of Commons spoke, and the Government will listen.
30 August 2013