15/04/2018 11:56 BST | Updated 15/04/2018 14:51 BST

Sunday Show Round-Up: Syria, The Skripals And The Commonwealth

Another busy day in politics.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson

The news agenda this weekend has been dominated, unsurprisingly, by Theresa May’s decision to join the USA and France in launching air strikes in Syria. 

It has sparked a huge political row, with many MPs appalled the PM did not seek the backing of Parliament before pressing ahead with military action against the Assad regime. 

We’ll hear more from the government tomorrow, when May makes a statement in the Commons.

But for now, here’s all you need to know from Sunday’s political programmes.


Jeremy Corbyn made his views on the intervention very clear on the Andrew Marr Show, accusing May of being too quick to follow Donald Trump’s lead and using policy “made up on Twitter”.

He was backed up by his shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, on Sky’s Sunday With Paterson.

The Labour leader wants a War Powers Act to be put in place, to prevent governments taking drastic steps abroad without the support of MPs and for a “political solution” to to the conflict to be reached. 

Corbyn wants the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to take the lead in investigating exactly what went on in the rebel-held town of Douma, where civilians were targeted in a suspected chemical attack.

He said Assad and “any other groups” found to have played a part in the deaths of 75 people should then be “confronted with the evidence”.

He believes humanitarian grounds alone did not provide enough of a basis for the UK to launch air strikes and said he could not support such action unless it had UN backing (which Russia could still veto).

Boris Johnson told the programme he believed the government had taken “successful, timely, appropriate and commensurate” steps against the “barbaric use of chemical weapons”.

The foreign secretary said May had acted appropriately in not seeking the approval of Parliament.

“There is abundant precedent which makes this absolutely clear,” he added.

Johnson said disgruntled MPs would be given the opportunity to have their say when the PM makes her Commons statement. 

His Labour counterpart, Emily Thornberry, disagreed, telling ITV’s Peston On Sunday that bombing was the wrong course of action because the UK should always act “multilaterally”.

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas shared her view, telling the programme that she would be pushing for a retrospective Parliamentary vote on the action, while Labour backbencher Chuka Umunna cautioned against comparing all UK military interventions to Iraq.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable also lent his voice to the argument that there should have been a debate in Parliament before action was taken over the weekend, and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon questioned whether military intervention was the only option.

De facto deputy prime minister David Lidington was non-committal when asked if Parliament would be given a say on any future potential action in Syria, but said there were no plans to change legislation in line with Corbyn’s calls.

“Governments need to be able to act swiftly and flexibly to protect the safety of our servicemen and women,” he added.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal

More than a month after the former Russian spy and his daughter were targeted in Salisbury, the debate around the circumstances of the attack rumbles on - despite experts confirming the pair were poisoned with Soviet-manufactured novichok.

Corbyn remained reluctant to condemn Putin’s regime outright, telling Marr: “If we are going to make a very clear assertion like that we have got to have the absolute evidence to do it.

“Assertions and probability is not the same as certainty.”

Boris Johnson said in his view it was “quite extraordinary” for anyone to deny the likelihood of Russian involvement in the incident. 

“To continue to to deny the likelihood...is a sort of blindness to reality that I find very, very perplexing,” he added.

The Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting gets underway in London on Monday, bringing together representatives from 53 nations to agree action on the most pressing global challenges. 

Corbyn believes it’s an opportunity for Britain to apologise for its past shortcomings, including the “immoral, brutal and wrong” treatment of Kenyans in the 1950s.

He is also in favour of the Commonwealth deciding who should be at its head after the Queen, on a rotational basis - a position shared by former Attorney General Baroness Scotland.

And finally...

More than 1,000 grassroots activists gathered on Sunday to demand a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final Brexit deal.

Politicians from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties joined leading actors, campaigners and business figures at the rally in Camden. 

Actor Patrick Stewart said he felt voters should be given the chance to have their say on the terms of the UK’s EU exit next year.

For those of you who’ve missed Commons People over the last fortnight, never fear - it returns on Thursday - and Parliament sits again tomorrow after the Easter recess.

In the meantime, you can find out what people think of the possibility of a second Brexit referendum in our People’s Negotiation video below: