06/10/2015 05:54 BST | Updated 06/10/2015 06:59 BST

David Cameron To Exploit Labour Division To Secure Parliament Support For Isil Bombing In Syria

LEON NEAL via Getty Images
British Prime Minister David Cameron listens as British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne addresses delegates, on the second day of the annual Conservative party conference in Manchester, north west England, on October 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

David Cameron has given his clearest signal yet he will press for a Commons vote on airstrikes in Syria by exploiting Labour divisions and Jeremy Corbyn's pacifism.

The Prime Minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "what matters is building a majority in the House of Commons", signalling he thinks he can get agreement among Labour rebels.

Mr Corbyn has made clear he would oppose bombing Syria either to remove the brutal Assad regime or Isil. Now the Prime Minister's plan is to work with Labour MPs who regretted the vote in 2013 not to take action.

"What matters is having a majority in the House of Commons," he told the programme.

Mr Cameron's Commons majority is unlikely to be enough given the resistance from some of his own back benches.

However, Mr Corbyn outright refuses to back any air strikes, though some even in his Shadow Cabinet are likely to disagree. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says MPs must have a free vote on the issue.

Mr Cameron went on: "I can't put a timescale on the vote, it is perfectly clear to me we have to go back to the House of Commons at a time when there is a greater consensus across the House of Commons for that action."

The Prime Minister described talks with with the Opposition as "a programme of discussions", but said he does not think Mr Corbyn "sees what the Isil risk is".

"A group of people in Iraq and Syria, not only causing mayhem in those countries but plotting day-by-day to kill and maim people on the streets of Britain, Australia, France, Belgium," he said. "The rest of Europe has woken up to this threat, but I don't think the Labour leader seems to see that threat."

At a Total Politics event last night, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that his dealings with foreign counterparts have become “embarrassing” and “awkward” as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s positions on Nato and Trident.

Mr Cameron went on that President Assad "cannot play a part in Syria's future" either, adding: "He is a butcher of his own people who has helped create Isil. We need a Syria free of Assad and Isil."

"That's not the question I can answer."


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