Jeremy Corbyn faced groans and shouts of “shame!” from Conservative MPs in the House of Commons after accusing Theresa May of bowing to “the whims of the US President” by bombing Syria.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement in the Commons over Saturday’s missile attack in alliance with the US and France, the Labour leader condemned May for acting without consulting MPs.
He described the chemical attack in Douma as “horrific” but faced a backlash as he told the Commons: “This statement serves as a reminder that the Prime Minister is accountable to this Parliament, not to the whims of the US President.
“We clearly need a War Powers Act in this country to transform a now broken convention into a legal obligation.
“Her predecessor came to this House to seek authority for military action in Libya and in Syria in 2015, and the House had a vote over Iraq in 2003.
“There is no more serious issue than the life and death matters of military action. It is right that Parliament has the power to support or stop the Government from taking planned military action.”
TV cameras caught May rolling her eyes in frustration.
Corbyn went on: “The BBC reports that the Prime Minister argued for the bombing to be brought forward to avoid parliamentary scrutiny – will she today confirm or deny those reports?
“I believe the action was legally questionable.”
Speaker John Bercow had to intervene to calm MPs, telling them Corbyn must be afforded the same “respectful quiet” atmosphere given to May.
Corbyn insisted Attorney General Jeremy Wright’s legal advice must be published in full on Monday.
He also raised concerns over the use of banned cluster bombs and white phosphorous by Saudi Arabia as he raised humanitarian concerns over Yemen.
Corbyn asked: “Will the Prime Minister commit today to ending support to the Saudi bombing campaign and arms sales to Saudi Arabia?”
May defended her decision not to recall Parliament, suggesting the “security” of the operation could have been compromised.
“The speed with which we acted was essential in co-operating with our partners to alleviate further humanitarian suffering and to maintain the vital security of our operations,” she said.
The decision required the evaluation of intelligence “much of which was of a nature that could not be shared with Parliament”.
May also delivered a withering stare when Labour MP Laura Smith asked when “US President Donald Trump had instructed” the PM to strike.
May hit back at the MP, saying: “The answer to the Honourable Lady’s question is: at no point at all. I took this decision.
“I took this decision because I believe it was the right thing to do. It was in the national interest.”