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Tim Farron abstains from vote on military action in Syria
11:58am Friday 30th August 2013 in News
TIM Farron abstained from voting for military action in Syria last night, calling for ‘diplomatic options’ to be pursued instead.
The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP said: “Tonight I did not vote for military action on Syria. There should be no rush to take military action. We must instead continue to exhaust every possible diplomatic option.”
The government motion, which was rejected by MPs in a 285-272 vote, called for a ‘strong humanitarian response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria’ and said that “this may, if necessary, require military action that is legal, proportionate and focused on savings lives by preventing and deterring further use of Syria’s chemical weapons.”
Mr Farron, who is also Liberal Democrat Party President, refused to vote with the government despite Nick Clegg spending an hour trying to persuade his party to back the motion during a parliamentary party meeting.
Mr Farron said he would abstain as the motion did not directly mention going to war, but would vote against it if it came back.
Speaking twice during the debate in parliament, Mr Farron described the situation in Syria as ‘the largest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century’ but called for non-military options to be pursued, such as charging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with war crimes through the International Criminal Court.
He also said many charities had expressed fears that an attack could worsen the humanitarian crisis in the region.
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock also abstained on the main motion, saying: ““I voted for Ed Miliband's road map for action in Syria rather than the government's proposal because I wanted stringent tests before any military action was sanctioned but after this defeat we all need to reflect on how unpopular the prospect of intervention was with the public.
“Britain will of course not now join any American-led action in the coming days and I hope we can consider measures to deter future chemical weapon use that command a greater degree of public support.”
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