Wales politics

Hain backs Islamic State air strikes despite misgivings

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeter Hain (left) and Paul Flynn took part in the debate ahead of the vote

Former Foreign Office minister Peter Hain has said he backs air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq despite feeling "deeply allergic" to more Middle Eastern interventions.

It came as MPs backed UK involvement in the attacks by 524 votes to 43.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn said the motion on military action was "the thin end of a bloody and ugly wedge".

He was one of five Welsh MPs, three Labour and two Plaid Cymru, to vote against UK airstrikes on Islamic State.

MPs were recalled to Parliament to discuss whether Britain should take part in military action.

Mr Hain, MP for Neath, voted in favour of the motion but told the Commons in his speech beforehand that he had been wrong to back the 2003 invasion of Iraq over weapons of mass destruction.

"We went to war on a lie and the aftermath was disastrous," he said.

Plaid Cymru's Arfon MP, Hywel Williams, opposed the motion, warning MPs that air strikes would kill civilians and "radicalise" the young.


"It is disturbing that the prime minister has said that we must not allow past mistakes to become an excuse for inaction," he said.

"The shadow of the Iraq war still looms large - surely we should be learning from history, not forgetting it."

Cynon Valley Labour MP Ann Clwyd, a former special envoy on human rights in Iraq, said she supported the motion but did not think that air strikes would be enough to crush the militants.

"The Iraqi army are apparently not ready to do this, are not properly trained to do this, and you can't depend on the Peshmerga... a small group of soldiers who have been defending their own homeland," she said.

"They can't possibly be responsible for defending the whole of Iraq - that is just pie in the sky."

Mr Flynn was one of the strongest Welsh voices against intervention.


He said: "This motion is the thin end of a bloody and ugly wedge that will grow and expand and mission creep into a prolonged war with unforeseeable consequences.

"We're falling into vortex of hatreds in the Middle East that are ancient and deep and once we start this process, it will be almost impossible in the future to extricate ourselves from it."

His Labour colleagues, Gower MP Martin Caton and Swansea East MP Sian James, also voted against the motion as did Plaid's Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards and Hywel Williams.

Prime Minister David Cameron opened the debate on Friday saying the UK had a "duty" to confront the threat from Islamic State, and that joining the US-led air strikes would be "clearly lawful".

After a seven-hour debate, MPs voted for military action with a majority of 481. The BBC live page on the debate is now closed.