Rishi Sunak faces fresh calls from MPs for vote on Houthi strikes

RAF Typhoon FRG4s being prepared to conduct further strikes against Houthi targets
RAF Typhoon FRG4s being prepared to conduct further strikes against Houthi targets - UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/Reuters
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Rishi Sunak is facing fresh calls to give MPs a vote on future strikes against the Houthis in Yemen after the UK joined a third wave of bombings over the weekend.

The most senior MP in both the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party issued statements on Sunday saying now was the time for the House of Commons to have a vote.

Downing Street figures argued when the first air strikes were made on Houthi targets last month that the action was limited and in self defence and therefore no vote in the Commons was needed.

But since then bombings have been carried out two more times. With the Houthis again warning that they will keep firing on Red Sea ships, the potential for more strikes remains.

There is no constitutional need for MPs to sign off on military action, but it has become a convention ever since Sir Tony Blair gained Commons approval for the Iraq invasion in 2003.

RAF weapon technician prepares a Typhoon FRG4 aircraft for strikes against Houthi targets
RAF weapon technician prepares a Typhoon FRG4 aircraft for strikes against Houthi targets - UK MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/Reuters

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, said on Sunday: “The Liberal Democrats support the case for limited strikes, so long as they remain limited.

“However, it is absolutely vital that Parliament has an opportunity to have its say, via a debate and a vote.

“It is becoming increasingly worrying that the Prime Minister seems to be doing all he can to avoid a proper debate and accountability in Parliament.”

Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP, said: “There is no more serious decision a Government can take than to launch military action and it’s therefore essential that Parliament has the opportunity to express its views – all the more so given the tinderbox which is the Middle East right now.

“Ministers can’t argue that seeking Parliament’s views would take away the element of surprise, given that this is the third round of strikes, with potentially more to come.”

Houthi fighters in the Arhab district of Sana'a in Yemen
Houthi fighters in the Arhab district of Sana'a in Yemen - Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu via Getty Images

Labour is yet to call for a vote, with Sir Keir Starmer standing by Mr Sunak’s earlier decisions to approve military action against the Houthis.

Asked why he had not recalled Parliament ahead of the first round of military action, Mr Sunak argued the action taken was “limited and necessary”.

Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, tweeted on Sunday: “The UK and the US have carried out further strikes on Houthi military targets. We have issued repeated warnings to the Houthis.

“Their reckless actions are putting innocent lives at risk, threatening the freedom of navigation and destabilising the region. The Houthi attacks must stop.”

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