The political debates in Westminster have been dominated by two big issues in recent weeks – the Comprehensive Spending Review and the deliberations on whether to undertake military intervention against ISIL through airstrikes in Syria.
After a debate of more than ten hours, last week the House of Commons voted by a substantial majority to authorise targeted bombing operations against ISIL in Syria. Support was received from MPs from Government and opposition parties and the decision will enable the extension of the actions already being taken against ISIL targets in Iraq by the RAF. I pay tribute to the skill and the bravery of our Armed Forces who are taking risks every day to help keep us safe.
Decisions on military intervention are never easy and a whole range of factors have been considered in depth by the Government. As well as considering the merits of undertaking targeted bombing operations against ISIL in Syria, the Government is also at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to secure a peaceful political settlement in Syria. The UK is also the second largest donor, behind the USA, to support refugees and peoples displaced by the conflict, providing them with shelter, food, healthcare and education. We are working with international partners to starve ISIL of funds and weaponry and to liaise on counter terrorism measures. Britain is also actively engaged in airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq, which is degrading the terrorists’ capacity to harm others.
The Government has taken the decision to press for military intervention through airstrikes as part of our wider strategy because ISIL pose a serious and real risk to our safety and security. The terrorist atrocities in Paris last month which has acted as a catalyst for further rounds of international action on Syria are not a one-off. They have followed numerous other devastating attacks including the brutal murders of British tourists on a Tunisian beach and the bombing of a Russian passenger plane. The terrorists who orchestrate these vile acts target civilians indiscriminately and have declared war on our ideals, civilisation, and way of life.
So far this year our intelligence and security services have thwarted seven plots by terrorists. Islamist terrorists are threatening our country and the Government is working to do all it can to protect us and keep us safe.
Because of this, we cannot stand by and ignore the threat of ISIL in the territory they occupy in Iraq and Syria. To do so could put this country at risk and would be irresponsible. ISIL are committing some of the most shocking and heinous crimes imaginable with hostages murdered and girls raped. They are also able to train and provide a safe-haven for terrorists. The United Nations Security Council has now passed a Resolution noting that ISIL “constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security” and calling for members to take “all necessary measures” to deal with the threat from ISIL.
The Prime Minister has put forward a strong, well-considered and compelling case for Britain to act to defend its values, protect this country, and play a leading role internationally to defeat ISIL.
On the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed a package of measures to set Britain on a path towards economic security over the next five years. Tough controls on Government spending have been put in place, which will improve the country’s fiscal position and eradicate the deficit. The actions that have been taken already since 2010 have pulled Britain back from the brink and supported record levels of job creation and growth in the economy. Over the next five years, more will be done to deliver the low tax, lower welfare and higher wage economy that benefits families and businesses.
Our plans are already providing benefits as the combination of higher tax receipts from a growing economy and lower debt interest costs from fiscal stability mean that there has been a £27 billion improvement in the public finances. This means we can use this funding to borrow less, support infrastructure investment, and help working families by maintaining the existing arrangements for working family tax credits.
Essex will benefit from schools and police having their budgets protected and new investment in the NHS and adult social care. Work is also progressing on the upgrading of the A12, the feasibility study for the A120 and the improvements to coincide with the new rail franchise beginning next year,
Our plans for the next five years continue to set the UK on the path to establishing the low tax, lower welfare, higher wage economy which will drive up productivity, investment and growth.
If readers have any comments or questions on the actions being taken against ISIL, the Comprehensive Spending Review or any other matter, they are welcome to get in touch by email to: WithamMP@parliament.uk by post to: The Office of The RT Priti Patel MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or by telephone on: 020 7219 3528.
Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Member of Parliament for Witham