MP WRITES: Why I support military intervention in Iraq

Parliament was recalled last Friday to decide upon the use of British military forces against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

Deciding on whether UK armed forces should be deployed in theatres of war is never easy.

I’m genuinely grateful to those people from Hartlepool who contacted me before the vote.

I noticed that, as with the vote on Syria a year ago, constituents were, in the main, thoughtful and considerate.

British foreign policy continues to be tainted by what happened with Iraq in 2003 and Saddam Hussein’s so-called weapons of mass destruction.

This will continue to have an impact on British actions overseas and the use of British military resources for decades to come.

That was seen by many as a western invasion with questionable evidence to underpin the use of British military force.

The motion before Parliament on Friday was a very different proposition.

That was why I was able to vote for the motion.

I did so for several very specific reasons.

First, any British military capability was at the express invitation of the democratically elected Government of Iraq, who are struggling to contain and eradicate IS.

Secondly, the motion upon which Parliament voted explicitly ruled out the use of British ground troops.

I took the view that the use of British ground troops would be negative, even counterproductive, as it would lend itself to accusations, no matter how false, of a western invasion or a 21st century crusade.

I think it is far better to ensure that any ground troops should be drawn from neighbouring Arab states.

Indeed, this involvement commands regional support.

The Arab League has made a statement calling for comprehensive measures to combat IS.

A regional coalition of Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar are working together to defeat IS.

It would be wrong to think that military action should be the sole means by which IS will be defeated.

Any military deployment should be carried out in conjunction with diplomatic and humanitarian measures, as well as taking specific steps to prevent IS from being able to sell oil which helps to fund its atrocities.

And that beings me onto the final reason.

IS has declared war on us already.

It has beheaded a British citizen and threatens another.

Both of those men were not and are not soldiers or even representatives of the UK, but aid workers hoping to make a difference to the appalling humanitarian disasters IS have produced.

It is recruiting people from Britain to become jihadists.

It threatens regional security as well as our specific national security.

Action certainly has repercussions, but inaction does too.

Our armed forces are incredibly special.

The deployment of British military equipment should never be taken lightly.

I have to say that I don’t think it was taken lightly by anybody in Parliament on Friday.

But I also hope I have explained the reasons why I voted the way I did.