A Statement from Helen.
I did not vote for the bombing of ISIL/Daesh.
As you know I had an eye operation a few days ago and I was not at Westminster on Wednesday night. But even if I had been, I think I would have abstained.
Firstly, because I was not persuaded that the government could achieve its objectives through bombing; there could be significant civilian casualties and I believe in the short term it would worsen security in the UK.
But I am not a pacifist and I do not rule out the use of force in the future against ISIL/Daesh, whose use of extreme violence shows that they cannot be reasoned with, so I think for me, it would have lacked integrity to give a simple ‘no’.
I feel not enough has been done to cut off ISIL’s finances and weapons and that we have, over many years, sold too many weapons into the region and not paid sufficient attention to human rights in the Middle East. I hope the spotlight which this debate has brought will enable us to make progress on these underlying issues, and I will continue to press the government for progress.
This is a very controversial step but I think now we must support the members of the armed forces who are putting their lives at risk to pursue a decision that has been taken democratically.
Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland Constituency