Defence Questions this afternoon was, as you might expect, a rather chippy affair. It seemed that whenever Philip Hammond rose to answer a question, he answered it by reminding the Labour MP asking it of their party’s decision to oppose the government’s motion on Syria. Nowhere was this more the case than in the Defence Secretary’s exchange with Jim Murphy, where both men set out some interesting wriggle room in their party positions on a second vote.
Here is the full text of the exchange, including Hammond's answer to Gisela Stuart in which he explained the circumstances of a second vote:
Gisela Stuart: Given that the situation in Syria is likely to or most likely to deteriorate or certainly change, could he tell the House why the vote last Thursday, when in essence the House did not agree to two motions, should not be revisited in the future?
Philip Hammond: Well Mr Speaker, as the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Foreign Secretary have already made clear, this is a democracy, Parliament has spoken, and we take it that Parliament has spoken very clearly. And we cannot keep coming back to Parliament with the same question. I think that the circumstances would have to change very significantly before Parliament would want to look again at this issue.
Jim Murphy: I want to return to the issue raised by my honourable friend from Edgbaston. On Thursday after the vote the Prime Minister ruled out UK involvement in military action in Syria. The government of course will remain engaged diplomatically and on aid policy.