Parliament is considering today whether to support the extension of air strikes on ISIL/Daesh beyond Iraq into Syria as part of a broader political, diplomatic and humanitarian strategy to the ongoing conflict in Syria. This is a decision which weighs heavily on every Member of Parliament.

I support Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to give Labour MPs a free vote in recognition that this is an issue of conscience. Issues of national security are above party politics. After careful reflection, I have decided to vote in favour of air strikes on Daesh in Syria and a broader political, diplomatic and humanitarian strategy.

The first duty of any government and any MP is to protect the public. Our security services have made clear that the UK is already a target for terrorist attacks. Seven attacks have already been foiled in the past year. We have seen the atrocities that Daesh have committed in Paris, Beirut, Ankara and the beaches of Tunisia. In Syria, they are killing innocent people, throwing innocent gay men off the roofs of buildings, enslaving women and beheading aid workers and journalists. I believe that failing to intervene would result in more innocent people dying at the hands of Daesh.

There is no perfect solution to the difficult and complex situation in Syria. Our priority must be to degrade Daesh and weaken its supply routes, communications and crucially its capacity to plan attacks.

In September 2014, I voted for air strikes on Daesh in Iraq. Given that they don’t respect international borders, it is not logical to only take action against Daesh in Iraq but not Syria. In Iraq, we are participating in air strikes that have forced Daesh into retreat. A coalition of our allies, led by the US and France is already taking action in Syria. It includes many Arab countries, such as Jordan and the UAE. I believe the UK should join that broad international coalition to respond to the Daesh threat. Our contribution in Syria will help to further reverse Daesh’s advance.

Furthermore, a United Nations resolution was passed unanimously two weeks ago that called on countries to do everything in their power to defeat Daesh.

I understand that the 2003 Iraq war looms large in people’s minds. But I believe the motion we are considering today is very different. The motion doesn’t aim for regime change, it does not authorise the deployment of British ground troops. Its clear objective is to tackle the threat posed by Daesh in Syria, here in the UK and beyond.

Military action needs to be complemented by political, diplomatic and humanitarian measures. Today’s motion commits the government to these measures. To defeat Daesh requires political cooperation in the wider region and it is vital that the UK government and the international community provide emergency humanitarian support for civilians in Syria, Iraq and refugees in neighbouring countries. I will continue to urge the government to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war and provide humanitarian efforts to help those displaced by it.