Although he voted for the government’s Syria motion on Thursday, James Gray, Tory MP for North Wiltshire, has revealed in a press release that he is opposed to military intervention over the use of chemical weapons.
And as it is reported today that five Cabinet ministers face the sack for failing to vote, Mr Gray claims he told Prime Minister David Cameron and the Tory whips of his views before the debate, one result being that the coalition motion was amended.
In a press release issued yesterday (Friday), Mr Gray declares: “The situation in Syria is a complex and fast-moving matter. “First of all, no human being could be other than heart-broken by the pictures of civilians burned and mutilated in chemical weapon attacks, of which there have now been around 14.
“People around the country will have seen the recent Panorama footage of children burned to the bone by what looked very much like a napalm bomb dropped in a school playground. No civilised person can stand aside and watch outrages and war crimes and crimes against humanity of that kind occurring apparently unchecked and unchallenged.
“Second, leaving aside any possible reservations about who may have been responsible (Assad’s motivation is hard to imagine, whereas others might well have strategic gain from it), I am by no means clear that military action would necessarily result in an ending of these vicious chemical attacks.
“It might, of course, make them worse, or have untold other military consequences.”
He adds: “I went up to Parliament yesterday strenuously opposed to any kind of military action, and that remains my strongly held conviction.
“I made the strength of my views plainly known to the whips and to the Prime Minister, at least partly as a result of which they fundamentally changed the nature of the motion to be debated on Thursday evening.
It became a fairly innocuous call for the world to express its outrage at the chemical attacks, a commitment to allow the UN inspectors and Security Council to complete their work, and a firm promise of a further Commons vote before any possible military action.
“Evil prevails when good people do nothing, and the commitment to the second vote allowed me to vote with the Government, thereby sending a very strong message to Assad or any others who might contemplate using these dreadful weapons, while at the same time reserving my right to oppose any military action. I am very glad that I did so.
“The Labour motion was defeated, as was the Government motion, despite my support for it. The net result is that the UK will not provide any kind of military support to any US action against Syria.
“That must be an end result about which we should be much relieved.”