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A majority of Tory members backed missile strikes on Syria - but most of them wanted Commons approval first

By Paul Goodman
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We asked in our monthly survey, posted on this site on Wednesday: "Should Britain join the US and France in prosecuting missile strikes against the Assad regime in Syria?" Here are the responses from Conservative members:

  • Yes - 12 per cent.
  • Yes, but only if David Cameron receives Parliamentary assent - 18 per cent.
  • Yes, but only with the approval of the United Nations - 4 per cent.
  • Yes, but only with both Parliament's and the United Nations' approval - 20 per cent.
  • No - 46 per cent.

In other words, nearly half of Tory member respondents were opposed to such strikes.  But they were outnumbered by those supporting them, though of the 54 per cent doing so, 42 per cent set the condition of UN approval or Parliamentary approval - or both.

We can't know what proportion of Conservative MPs were opposed to strikes because the Government motion on Thursday didn't propose them.  My best estimate is that at least a third were, and that Party members are thus more resistant to strikes than MPs.

However, that's guesswork. The fact of the matter is that Tory members backed strikes in our poll, and roughly a third lined up behind the Prime Minister's original position - strikes supported by a vote in the Commons (that's the 12 per cent plus the 18 per cent).

Since the Commons voted down both the Government's and Labour's proposals, such strikes are off the table - at least in the short term.  But our results are still worth noting.  Over 800 Party members responded to the survey and almost 2000 readers.


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