After Jo Cox report, PM must press Trump on Syria

Alison McGovern MP calls on May to stand up for civilians


Alison McGovern has called on Theresa May to ‘press the case’ for protecting civilians in Syria in her meeting with President Trump.

The Labour MP’s demand comes as a report co-authored by her friend, the late MP Jo Cox, is released saying military action is sometimes justified to prevent war crimes.

Her piece follows calls by Syrian activists for May to drop aid to civilians besieged by pro-Assad forces.

McGovern took over as co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group Friends of Syria after Cox was murdered by a neo-Nazi terrorist last June.

Writing in the Guardian, McGovern said:

“If Theresa May is serious about her ambition for a ‘Global Britain’ then she should be using her meeting with Donald Trump this week to press the case for greater engagement in Syria and make it clear that the UK stands ready to do what is necessary to protect civilians.”

The report was started by Cox and Tory MP Tom Tugendhat and completed by McGovern, after Cox’s widower Brendan found his late wife’s draft version.

The Cost of Doing Nothing is released today by the Policy Exchange think tank with a speech by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

It argues the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should not lead to ‘knee-jerk’ isolationism, citing successful military action in northern Iraq to protect the Kurds in 1991, and later in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, and the counter example of Rwanda, where Britain did not intervene.

McGovern points to the United Nations ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine, which Britain signed up to in 2005, and said intervention – including military action – was an obligation if a government was failing to protect its civilians. But on Syria, she continued:

“Far from honouring the resolution, the UK has stood transfixed and impotent in the face of the greatest crime of our century. By failing to act to prevent Assad’s brutality, Britain – along with the US and other liberal western nations – left the way clear for Russia to take the initiative.”

She concluded:

“In the wake of Aleppo, and with daunting challenges ahead, we must realise that both action and inaction have consequences.

As Jo Cox always argued, we cannot stand by in the face of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide. It is not in Britain’s national interest, nor in the interests of the weakest and most vulnerable in the world.”

You can read the whole piece here.

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: Theresa May’s inaction makes UK ‘complicit’ in Syrian ethnic cleansing, say activists

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