POLITICS
16/04/2018 09:01 BST | Updated 16/04/2018 12:00 BST

Syria Strikes To Punish 'Bad Behaviour' Not Justified, Says Shami Chakrabarti

Theresa May set for Commons showdown with MPs.

Shami Chakrabarti has said it was wrong for Theresa May to launch military strikes against the Syrian regime simply to punish its “bad behaviour”.

Labour’s shadow attorney general said on Monday morning the government had “not passed the tests” it set for itself to justify the attack in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“I don’t think that the government can demonstrate convincing evidence, and a general acceptance by the international community that they had to act in the way they did a few days ago,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

“You have to actually be using urgent, necessary and proportionate force. And you have to do it with the will of the world behind you.”

She added: “You can’t use force under international law just to punish Syria for bad behaviour.”

Theresa May will today tell MPs military intervention in Syria was “Britain’s national interest”.

The prime minister is expected to apply for an emergency Commons debate on the joint British, US and French missile strikes in response to the chemical attack that killed at least 70 people.

It comes amid reports Conservative MPs were put on a three-line whip to attend Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, suggesting the debate could lead to a vote - which would be non-binding but potentially disastrous for May’s authority.

May has faced criticism for not asking for parliamentary approval before agreeing the missile strikes on key chemical and military facilities in Syria.

Chakrabarti said the prime minister should have recalled parliament last week to hold a vote.

“Some people will suspect that that didn’t happen because of governmental concerns that they couldn’t get the vote in Parliament. And that to me is not a good enough reason,” she said.

Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images

On Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn called for a ‘war powers act’ to guarantee MPs gets a vote on military action in the future.

The Labour leader claimed May’s decision was “policy made up by Twitter” and that the Prime Minister had been too keen to “follow Donald Trump’s lead”.

Boris Johnson this morning defended the strikes as “proportionate” and “entirely the right thing to do”.

The foreign secretary stressed it was “not an attempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have regime change” and “the Syrian war in many ways will go on in its horrible, miserable way”.

“But it was the world saying that we have had enough of the use of chemical weapons, the erosion of that taboo that has been in place for 100 years has gone too far under Bashar Assad,” he said.

Speaking in the Commons today, May will say: “United Nations Security Council-mandated inspectors have investigated previous attacks and on four occasions decided that the regime was indeed responsible.

“We are confident in our own assessment that the Syrian regime was highly likely responsible for this attack and that its persistent pattern of behaviour meant that it was highly likely to continue using chemical weapons.

“Furthermore, there were clearly attempts to block any proper investigation, as we saw with the Russian veto at the UN earlier in the week.

“And we cannot wait to alleviate further humanitarian suffering caused by chemical weapons attacks.”

She will add: “Let me be absolutely clear: we have acted because it is in our national interest to do so.

“It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria - and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used.

“For we cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised - either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere.”

She will continue: “We have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do. And we are not alone.

“There is broad based international support for the action we have taken.

“Over the weekend I have spoken to a range of world leaders - including Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Gentiloni, Prime Minister Trudeau, Prime Minister Turnbull and European Council President Donald Tusk.

“All have expressed their support for the actions that Britain, France and America have taken.”

Lord West, the former head of the Royal Navy and Labour security minister, told the BBC this morning he believed the chemical attack was more likely to be the word of “islamist terrorists” that President Assad.

“It’s their interest for us to respond and get more and more involved,” Lord West said. “We know that they have used chlorine in the past.”

The peer said the motivation of the “Islamic opposition” to conduct an attack would be to force Western allies into the conflict to try and change the course of the war.