Labour’s Watson Backs Call for Free Vote on U.K. Air Strikes

Tom Watson
Britain's opposition Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson. Photographer: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

U.K. opposition Labour lawmakers should be given a free vote on the issue of Britain mounting air strikes on Islamic State in Syria, the party’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson said.

“Matters of security are perhaps the most solemn decisions that MPs have to make and they have to think about it deeply,” Watson told the Independent on Sunday. “After the week that we’ve had, the best way of holding the party together, but allowing MPs to solemnly express what they feel, is for us to have a free vote.”

Labour’s Shadow Cabinet may have to give a show of hands in favor of military action to convince the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn to back down from his stated opposition to air strikes, Watson said.

“Where at all possible we should try to get a consensus position without a show of hands,’’ Watson told the newspaper. “It remains to be seen whether we can do that on Monday. There are now voices across all wings of the party, from John McDonnell to Tristram Hunt, suggesting we should have a free vote, and I think they are right.”

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