A North Devon Green Party activist has attacked MPs Nick Harvey and Geoffrey Cox for not attending a parliamentary debate over UK intervention in Syria.
Neither Nick Harvey, the MP for North Devon or Geoffrey Cox, the MP for Torridge and West Devon, joined their colleagues in airing their views in the House of Commons on the debate yesterday despite Parliament being recalled early from their summer recess.
Ministers were asked whether the UK should join in with any allied military action against the Assad regime in Syria after it was feared the regime had used chemical weapons on civilians in the country last week.
Ricky Knight, the secretary of the North Devon Green Party, was outraged to hear the MPs were not at the debate.
He said: "Neither Cox nor Harvey attended the vote yesterday - an absolute abrogation of their representative duties - at one of the most historic and crucial watershed moments in British political history.
"As much as I am gob-smacked and overjoyed, it is utterly shameful that Harvey, as former armed services minister and the guy who stood next to our anti-war banners in 2001 prior to the illegal Iraq invasion, was not there.
"I suppose there'll be perfectly good reasons but nonetheless."
Despite being away Mr Harvey made the following statement yesterday.
He said: “The world cannot ignore the kind of atrocities we have recently witnessed in Syria.
“The pain and suffering will continue whether intervention takes place or not: that it why we should only move towards military action cautiously and without haste.
“It’s good that today’s debate will therefore be on principles only, and a final vote on military action will be held with full sight of the weapons inspectors’ report.
“This is vital as the intelligence picture becomes clearer as to how firmly the outrage about last week’s attack can be pinned on the Assad regime – and it is also important that we wait for the Attorney General’s legal advice as to the legal basis for any action.
“There should be no action without international backing, which needs to be gathered for example from the EU, Arab League, and at least trying for a UN resolution.
“There are risks to any form of intervention and protecting civilians must be the top priority, so it is vital that only military targets are even considered. Syrian people have seen enough bloodshed.
“Fears of becoming embroiled in a conflict with no clear strategy and exit plan must weigh heavily: there needs to be a short-term specific authority and not in any way open-ended.
“It is also worth bearing in mind that the majority of any action undertaken would essentially be by the US – our contribution would likely be in a supportive role.”
Mr Cox was unavailable for comment but it was confirmed he would be unable to attend today’s debate.
The majority of MPs yesterday voted against the motion for UK military intervention in Syria and Prime Minister David Cameron said that decision will be respected.