Theresa May is preparing to face questions from MPs about her decision to launch air strikes against military targets in Syria alongside the US and France.
Opposition parties argue the prime minister should have waited for MPs to return from Easter recess this week for a thorough debate before authorising a bombing campaign in response the Assad regime’s suspected use of chemical weapons in the formerly rebel-held town of Douma on 7 April.
Making the case for the strikes, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The reprehensible use of chemical weapons in Douma is further evidence of the Syrian regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people. We will not stand by whilst innocent civilians, including women and children, are killed and made to suffer.
“The international community has responded decisively with legal and proportionate military force. Let these united actions send a clear message to the regime – the use of chemical weapons is categorically unacceptable and you will be held to account.”
The Assad regime and its backers in Moscow deny the use of chemical weapons in Douma, but previous denials by the regime about chemical weapons use have proved to be false.
May is due to give a Commons statement on Monday before facing questions from MPs, and is expected to also ask the speaker for an emergency debate on the subject of Syria in Parliament.
Under current UK law, the prime minister does not have to consult parliament before launching military action, but the convention since the invasion of Iraq has been for MPs to be consulted in advance. Labour have called for a new War Powers Act to enshrine this convention in law for any future interventions.
The government says MPs will have “abundant time” to have their say about the air strikes, but opposition MPs argue they should have been consulted before the action and not left to discuss the merits of the case afterwards.