UK must not abandon the Syrian people but we need to act in the right way.
Over the last week I have heard from many people in Darlington who have deeply held concerns over both the ongoing situation in Syria and how we in the UK have sought to respond to it. I made sure to read every correspondence as I reflected on the serious issues raised and on how best to represent the town in the vote.
I do understand those who see the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the Assad regime and urge us to act. The use of chemical weapons is intolerable and we need to make sure President Al Assad does not simply get away with the slaughter of his own people and breaking international law.
At the same time I share much of the unease felt by people in Darlington who can't see how a rush to military action, bypassing the UN to fire off cruise missiles this weekend, would improve the situation.
Last night was not about washing our hands of Syria; the need is as great as ever for the Prime Minister and the Government to work closely with our allies to find ways to put the pressure on the Assad regime and to aid the Syrian people.
Military action is, for now, off the agenda. Labour made clear that if we are ever to support such action the evidence needs to be gathered, the aims needs to be focused and achievable, and we need to have done the work with the United Nations.
For now the UK Government needs to redouble its efforts to get the peace talks going. We have to keep working with our allies to provide humanitarian aid and to support the refugees fleeing Syria.
We mustn't stand aside but we are right to explore our options, to follow international law, and to tread carefully. I voted to support Labour's amendment and I voted against the Government's motion. We have had our fingers burned by rushed action before and we need to make sure that this time we do things right.