Select committee divisions on airstrikes in Syria

The lengthy House of Commons debate and subsequent vote on air strikes in Syria revealed significant divisions both between and within parties. There were two votes in the House of Commons last night the first, on a cross-party amendment which sought to block airstrikes, was defeated by 390 votes to 211. This was followed by a vote on the government’s motion asking for support for airstrikes which the government won by 397 votes to 223. The motion can be read in full here. It concluded that the House,

…accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government in taking military action, specifically airstrikes, exclusively against ISIL in Syria; and offers its wholehearted support to Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Considerable attention will today focus on which MPs voted for and against the motion to undertake airstrikes and in particular on divisions within the parties. Seven Conservative MPs voted against airstrikes and a further seven abstained. Six Liberal Democrats voted for, while two voted against. As was widely predicted, the Labour Party, whose MPs were given a free vote, was most divided on the issue, with 153 Labour MPs voting with their leader against airstrikes, while 66 voted in favour. Five Labour MPs abstained. All SNP MPs voted against airstrikes.

Leaving aside the obvious splits within the parties, it is interesting to see how the votes divided in the various parliamentary committees which are likely to be most closely involved in scrutinising the conduct and consequences of Britain’s involvement in the conflict against ISIS. This reveals some significant divisions and not only on party lines. These were most notable in the Foreign Affairs Committee, from which four MPs voted for airstrikes and four against, while the remaining three including the Conservative MP, Adam Holloway, were either absent or abstained. The divisions in the Defence Committee were also notable, with the Conservative Chair (and former member of the Intelligence and Security Committee), Dr Julian Lewis, voting against the government. The Defence, Home Affairs and the Intelligence and Security Committee, all included Labour MPs who voted both for and against the motion.

Foreign Affairs Committee


Crispin Blunt – Chair (Con)

Daniel Kawczynski (Con)

Andrew Rosindell (Con)

Nadhim Zahawi (Con)


John Baron (Con)

Stephen Gethins (SNP)

Mark Hendrick (Lab)

Yasmin Qureshi (Lab)


Adam Holloway (Con)


Anne Clwyd (Lab)

Mike Gapes (Lab)

Defence Committee


Richard Benyon (Con)

James Gray (Con)

Johnny Mercer (Con)

Bob Stewart (Con)

Ruth Smeeth (Lab)

John Spellar (Lab)

Phil Wilson (Lab)

Jim Shannon (DUP)


Dr Julian Lewis – Chair (Con)

Madeleine Moon (Lab)

Douglas Chapman (SNP)

Home Affairs Committee


Keith Vaz – Chair (Lab)

Victoria Atkins (Con)

James Berry (Con)

David Burrowes (Con)

Nusrat Ghani (Con)

Ranil Jayawardena (Con)

Tim Loughton (Con)

Chuka Umunna (Lab)


Naz Shah (Lab)

David Winnick (Lab)

Intelligence and Security Committee


Dominic Grieve – Chair (Con)

Alan Duncan (Con)

Keith Simpson (Con)

George Howarth (Lab)

Gisela Stuart (Lab)


Fiona Mactaggart (Lab)

Angus Robertson (SNP)

The ISC is a joint committee of both Houses. There was a House of Lords debate on Syria yesterday but no vote. The two ISC members in the House of Lords, Lords Janvrin and Lothian, did not participate.

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