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Syria: 'Proof justifies a new vote'
Fresh evidence against Bashar Assad's regime would allow the Government to go back to Parliament for a second vote on military action, it was claimed as Washington announced it had proof that sarin gas was used in Syria.
Boris Johnson became the latest figure to suggest that British forces could still be deployed following the atrocity on the outskirts of Damascus, insisting there was "no reason" why a renewed bid for parliamentary support could not still be made.
US secretary of state John Kerry has revealed the United States has evidence of sarin gas use after testing samples of hair and blood and insisted he is confident that Congress will back military action when it is put to a vote next week.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the Mayor of London said the use of gas for mass murder could not be allowed to go unpunished. "If there is new and better evidence that inculpates Assad, I see no reason why the Government should not lay a new motion before Parliament, inviting British participation - and then it is Ed Miliband, not David Cameron, who will face embarrassment," he wrote.
"The Labour leader has been capering around pretending to have stopped an attack on Syria - when his real position has been more weaselly. If you add the Tories and Blairites together, there is a natural majority for a calibrated and limited response to a grotesque war crime."
David Cameron ruled out the use of British force following a humiliating defeat in the Commons but the prospect of Parliament revisiting the issue was raised following US president Barack Obama's announcement that he is seeking congressional support for a punishment strike.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former foreign secretary, said "Parliament ought to have the opportunity to debate the matter again" if the evidence was agreed to be compelling. Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown also suggested Parliament could "reconsider its position" following the moves announced by the United States to put action to a vote.
On Sunday, Chancellor George Osborne insisted, however, that "Parliament has spoken" and suggested that even in the face of fresh chemical weapons attacks or new evidence, Britain will not intervene. Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was not "realistic" to repeatedly return to the Commons with the same question.
The Chancellor and Foreign Secretary both acknowledged that many Coalition MPs were deeply sceptical about intervention and were unlikely to change their position, even in the face of further evidence.
Labour sources insisted that the party had "never ruled out force in principle" but simply could not sign up to the motion the Government had tabled. Members of the shadow cabinet would not be drawn on whether they would support military action if the situation in Syria changed.