British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes Thursday, a stunning defeat for a government which had been poised to join the U.S. in strikes to punish Bashar Assad’s regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack this month.
Cameron’s nonbinding motion was defeated 285-272 and he conceded after the vote that “the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action.”
The prime minister said in terse comments while he believes in a “tough response” to the use of chemical weapons, he would respect the will of the House of Commons.
At the start of the week, Cameron had seemed ready to join Washington in possible military action against Assad over the alleged chemical weapons attack. But the push for strikes against the Syrian regime began to lose momentum as Britain’s Labour Party — still smarting from its ill-fated decision to champion the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — announced its opposition to the move.