US moves closer to Britain over Syria

The change in the White House's position on Syria appears designed to bring it more into line with that long argued for by Britain and France.

London and Paris have maintained that President Assad must be made to realise that he cannot secure a military victory against his opponents and must be forced to the negotiating table.

Overnight, all Downing Street have been prepared to say is that the British government were kept informed of the decision.

However, just 24 hours earlier the foreign secretary was in Washington holding talks with his opposite number, the US secretary of state.

William Hague declared that "we will have to be prepared to do more to save lives, to pressure the Assad regime to negotiate seriously".

Ten days ago the prime minister shocked many MPs by declaring that - in future - the government might arm the Syrian rebels and comparing those who urged caution with those who did nothing as hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in the Bosnian conflict.

Since then the concerns expressed not just by Labour but also by many Tory backbenchers and some within his own cabinet has persuaded David Cameron to moderate his tone and to promise a Commons vote on the issue.

The question now is - if President Obama does order the arming of the Syrian rebels will Britain follow suit and would the MPs vote for it?

Before that, though, it is now clear what the focus will be of both the G8 summit in Fermanagh next week and, in particular, of the prime minister's eve-of-summit meeting with Russia's President Putin.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

What a difference a day makes

In just 24 hours, Sir Malcolm Rifkind went from angry defiance to a grim-faced acceptance that he would have to quit his job as an MP and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • BooksNew novels

    BBC Culture takes a look at ten new books to read in March


  • A robot holding a table legClick Watch

    The robots who build flat-pack furniture - teaching machines to work collaboratively

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.