Daesh is attempting to obtain nuclear and biological weapons, David Cameron has said, as he suggested that MPs could vote on air strikes in Syria next week.
The Prime Minister said that MPs “shouldn’t take too long” to reach a decision as he warned that “every day we spend is a day that we’re not getting to grips with the Isil menace”.
He said he would set out his plan for military intervention in Syria on Thursday then give MPs the chance to “consider it over the weekend” ahead of a potential vote early next week.
The decision will add to mounting pressure on Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, to reverse his decision to bar his MPs from having a free vote on intervention against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The majority of the shadow cabinet and up to 60 Labour MPs are prepared to rebel against Corbyn and vote in favour of military action.
Maria Eagle, the shadow defence secretary, Monday said it was not “inconceivable” that Corbyn, a lifelong pacifist, could vote against military action in Syria.
Ministers are increasingly confident that they will have the support of enough Labour rebels to win the vote.
Cameron said: “Later this week I will set out in Parliament our comprehensive strategy for tackling Isil. I firmly support the action that President Hollande has taken to strike Isil in Syria and it is my firm conviction that Britain should do so too.
“I don’t want to bounce the House into this. Members of Parliament will be able to take it away, consider it over the weekend, and then we go to having a full day’s debate and proper consideration, and a vote.”
A Downing Street source said that there was no timetable for a vote and that it would only take place if there was enough support from MPs.
Yesterday, the Government published Britain’s national security strategy, which warned that Isil and al-Qaida “will try to acquire chemical, biological and radiological capabilities”.
It disclosed that 800 Britons have travelled to Syria to take part in the conflict who were unknown to the security services. Around half have since returned home.
The Government also unveiled its strategic defence review, which committed Britain to spending pounds 178 billion on military equipment over the next decade. Ten thousand soldiers, including bomb disposal experts, will be ready to be deployed at short notice to respond to Paris-style terrorist attacks.
The Armed Forces will also form a 50,000-strong “expeditionary force” drawn from all three forces and capable of deploying overseas at short notice. As part of a pounds 2? billion cash injection for the Special Forces, elite units will be given a new fleet of high-altitude Zephyr surveillance drones that can fly to the edge of space and stay aloft for up to three months.
Britain will also begin building a missile defence network of radar which will be able to spot incoming ballistic missiles. Until now, the UK has relied on an American early warning system in North Yorkshire. However, the Government also admitted that Britain’s new generation of nuclear deterrent submarines will be delayed by up to five years and the cost of the project will rise by at least pounds 6 billion.
Yesterday morning, Cameron stood side-by-side with Francois Hollande, the French president, during a visit to Paris. He said that Britain would support France in its fight against Isil in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
Britain will make RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus available for French aircraft to mount air strikes on Syria.
Cameron said: “The United Kingdom will do all in our power to support our friend and ally France to defeat this evil death cult.” He said after the meeting that it was “frankly ridiculous” that the EU had failed to reach agreement on sharing the names of passengers on flights as a terror deterrent.
Hollande will today travel to Washington to meet President Barack Obama as he seeks to form a global coalition against Isil, followed by a visit to Moscow to see President Vladimir Putin.