Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns of further sanctions against Russia

    Read more

  • Experimental Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • IMF stands behind Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

Middle east

UK press slams Cameron after Syria vote ‘humiliation’

Video by Bénédicte PAVIOT

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-08-30

For a government to lose a vote on a matter of war and peace is almost unprecedented in British parliamentary history. The British press has gone to town over Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to secure parliament’s support for strikes on Syria.

The British parliament’s rejection Thursday of Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion to support military action against Syria, in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, has been seen across the political spectrum as a disaster for the country’s leader.

The government was defeated by just 13 votes in the House of Commons in its bid for a "strong humanitarian response" to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Damascus regime.

The British press was united in their agreement that the defeat was a severe blow for Cameron’s leadership at home and also for his international standing.

A scathing right-wing press

“British prime ministers are just not supposed to lose votes on issues as fundamental as war and peace,” wrote Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator magazine, in an opinion piece for the right-wing Daily Telegraph. “This represents not just an extraordinary defeat, but a catastrophic political misjudgement.”

“He put his credibility on the line, and lost,” Nelson concluded. “It is a defeat from which he will take some time to recover.”

The Daily Mail, usually a staunch supporter of Cameron’s Conservative Party, headlined: “The humbling of David Cameron: On a momentous night, Tory rebellion forces Prime Minister to rule out military strike against Syria... and plunges him into a deep political crisis.”

In its editorial, the newspaper praised the rebellion against the motion which was led by the opposition Labour Party: “Mr Cameron staked his personal credibility on committing the British military to join America in missile strikes on Syria.

“After his humbling in the Commons that credibility is in tatters. It was an undoubted triumph of Parliament over the executive – a day in which MPs voted with their consciences and represented the wishes of a deeply sceptical public.”

The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling tabloid and supporter of Cameron’s Conservatives, is famous for its imaginative headlines. "Cam Down: PM humiliated as MPs say NO to military strikes," the paper blared.

Its political editor Tom Newton Dunn commented: "Prime ministers simply don't lose votes on war, leaving us in truly uncharted territory. Mr Cameron can survive this, but his authority will never be the same again."

The left’s victory for parliament

While praising Cameron’s eloquence in putting his argument to the House of Commons, an editorial in left-leaning daily The Guardian called the result a “humiliation”: “For a prime minister to lose control of a key issue of foreign policy of this kind is an almost unprecedented failure.”

And if Cameron was the loser, parliament was the clear winner: “The government was prevented from mounting a premature and foolish attack on Syria. Parliament, so often sneered at, did its job when it mattered.”

Even on the more neutral turf of the BBC, the public broadcaster’s political correspondent Ross Hawkins questioned how Cameron could maintain his international credibility.

“Parliament expressed its will and the PM listened,” he wrote. “However you think it through, it will take some explaining, not least to the Americans. People at home and abroad will ask: who is in charge?

“Many at Westminster will, of course, be obsessed by what this means [for Cameron] in a place where weakness is a sin.

“Others will wonder about the consequences for the people of Syria and the Middle East.

“And Britain - a country that has agonised about its role in the world since the Suez crisis - will ask whether it might no longer be a nation that intervenes.”


 

Date created : 2013-08-30

  • SYRIA

    French and Russian warships 'head for Syria'

    Read more

  • SYRIA - VIDEO

    On the ground in Damascus: ‘It is us who will die’

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Obama says no decision yet to attack Syria

    Read more

COMMENT(S)