LONDON (Reuters) - Several senior members of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party may resign if they are forced to vote in line with their leader’s view that the country should not extend air strikes against Islamic State to Syria, the BBC reported on Friday.
Two months after far-left lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, Labour is deeply split on foreign and security policy, curbing its ability to keep the ruling Conservatives in check.
A push by Prime Minister David Cameron to convince lawmakers to support extending air strikes has exposed further divisions, with Corbyn writing to his party saying he could not back the case for military action.
Some Labour lawmakers agree with Cameron, who must convince some opposition members and several skeptical lawmakers in his own party if he is to win a parliamentary majority for widening the air campaign against IS.
The BBC said an unnamed member of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘shadow cabinet’, the body whose members follow portfolios mirroring those of the government, had warned people could quit after the Labour leader said he could not support the government’s case for bombing Islamic State militants in Syria.
But later, Hilary Benn, Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, said such differences were to be expected when considering military action, and although he backed extending air strikes, he respected Corbyn’s right to express his opinion.
“Each individual in the end will reach their own decision about what they think the right thing to do is and I respect that,” he said, adding that the party would continue discussing its position on Monday.
“Whatever difference of view there may be on the question of what the right thing is to do in Syria, we’re united behind Jeremy.”
Cameron lost an earlier vote in parliament on launching air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2013.
Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Sarah Young, editing by Stephen Addison