Farron defends Clegg and Lib Dem leader's position on Syrian intervention (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Farron defends Clegg and Lib Dem leader's position on Syrian intervention
WESTMORLAND MP Tim Farron has defended Nick Clegg's position on intervening in Syria.
The deputy prime minister had supported Conservative PM David Cameron in proposing UK military involvement after a chemical weapons attack killed hundreds of Syrians.
But the motion was blocked following a rebellion among Lib Dem and Conservative MPs, and Labour opposition.
Mr Farron, the party's President, abstained from last Thursday’s vote and said he could not support Mr Clegg's position.
On Sky News yesterday, presenter Dermot Murnaghan asked whether the party and Mr Clegg should be 'ashamed' for not leading the anti-war position.
Mr Farron said: "We're not a pacifist party. We're a party that believes in international law and justice.”
"I personally took the view that this was not the time to take military action - that all of the routes needed to be pursued first; that we were likely to make a humanitarian situation worse rather than better by intervening."
He denied that before the vote, a meeting of Lib Dem MPs to discuss their position had been stormy and seen Mr Clegg address his MPs 'like children'.
Mr Farron said: "It wasn't rancorous and he didn't do that at all. I disagreed with him on a couple of points and felt at the end I couldn't support the government."
Conservative MP Rory Stewart, who represents Penrith and the Border, did not take part in the vote as he was attending a wedding.
Mr Stewart, a former diplomat with Middle East experience, wrote on his blog: "My experience in Iraq and Afghanistan had made me very sceptical of interventions.
"I had seen how easily the international community could be dragged into pursuing muddled and even impossible objectives. But nevertheless, I felt the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons should have changed our response."
Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodcock said: "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.”
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