Today, I voted for British air strikes against ISIL in Iraq. I want to share my reasons for this with you.
ISIL is a murderous organisation. It has ambitions for a state of its own -- a Caliphate across the Middle East, run according to horrific values. And it is threatening to undermine the democratic state of Iraq.
We have seen its hostage-taking of innocent British citizens, but it is not just British citizens who they are threatening: they also threaten Christians, Yazidis, fellow Muslims, Sunni and Shia, from many different countries and backgrounds. They threaten anyone who does not subscribe to their deeply perverted ideology.
The truth is that ISIL is murdering Muslims. Military action against ISIL is not an attack on Islam.
We cannot stand by against the threat of ISIL in Iraq, but in acting against them we need to learn the lessons of the past.
That means a comprehensive strategy, humanitarian and political as well as military; rooted in the region. Some of this is underway, but more needs to be done.
I understand the reason for many people's wariness about military action and I share it.
I was not in the House of Commons in 2003, but I was not in favour of that war. I understand that some will wonder if this is a repeat of that experience. In my view, it's not.
The decision today is about supporting a democratic state, not overturning an existing regime. There is also no question of British ground troops being deployed.
There are six criteria I believe we must use to judge when military action is right and to make sure we learn the lessons of the past. These are: the action must have just cause; it must be the last resort; it must be of clear legality; it must have a reasonable prospect of success; there must be support in the region; and it must be proportionate.
I have scrutinised these six conditions and believe they are met in this case.
You can read my scrutiny of these six conditions here:
There is no debate about the legal basis for action. There is no argument about whether military action is a last resort.
There is also broad international support behind action, not a divided world. All 28 EU member states and the Arab League are providing support. Five Arab states are taking part in military action.
As always, I have huge admiration for the bravery, spirit, and the duty displayed by our armed forces, who will act on the decision taken by Parliament today.
There is no graver decision for our Parliament and our country than the one taken today. Intervention always has risks, but ISIL unchecked means more persecution of the innocent and a dismembered Iraq would be more dangerous for Britain.
I believe that taking military action against ISIL in Iraq is the right course of action in promoting our values and protecting our security.
(makes sense to me)