LONDON — The British government would agree to a request from Donald Trump to attack Syria, even without the support of the UK parliament, Boris Johnson has said.
The Foreign Secretary told the Today Programme on Thursday that Britain would almost certainly agree to join an attack on the Assad regime, even without first putting it to a vote in parliament.
“If the Americans choose to act again, and they ask us to help, I think it will be very difficult to say no,” Johnson said.
Asked whether that would need the approval of Parliament, Johnson replied: “I think that needs to be tested.”
Pushed again on this point, he replied: “I think it would be very difficult for us to say no.”
Former Coalition Prime Minister David Cameron lost a House of Commons vote on authorising strikes against Syria in 2013 after Conservative and Liberal Democrat rebels joined with Labour in opposing action.
Since then the government has accepted the convention that parliament must first authorise military action.
However, parliament is set to have an extended summer recess this year because of the upcoming general election.
MPs can be recalled at the request of government, though, in order to deal with “events of major national importance.”
Johnson was also pressed on the question of whether the NHS will receive the £350m extra a week promised it by the pro-Brexit campaign group Vote Leave in the run-up to the June referendum. The UK Statistics Authority has described the figure as misleading and likely to undermine trust in statistics.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday threw doubt on the possibility of the pledge being honoured, saying that the UK would only get a dividend if Brexit negotiations went well.
Johnson defended the contentious pledge, however, saying that Theresa May would be free to “control” the money it currently sends to the EU, after Brexit.
However, he repeatedly refused to say whether Britain would be willing to pay up to £60bn for Britain’s “divorce bill” to the EU, insisting only that they were not willing to continue paying “huge sums of money in the long term” to the EU.
He also dismissed suggestions this week from David Cameron that trade talks with the EU would only begin after the divorce bill had been settled.
“That’s not going to happen,” he insisted.
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