‘What will Bammy and the Rothschilds say?’
MPs have rejected possible UK military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to deter the use of chemical weapons.
David Cameron said he would respect the defeat of a government motion by 285-272, ruling out joining US-led strikes.
The US said it would “continue to consult” with the UK, “one of our closest allies and friends”.
France said the UK’s vote does not change its resolve on the need to act in Syria.
The prime minister’s call for a military response in Syria followed a suspected chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on 21 August, in which hundreds of people are reported to have died.
The US and UK say the Assad government was behind the attack – a claim denied by Damascus, which blames the rebels.
Assad said Syria would defend itself against any aggression.
The UK government’s motion was in support of military action in Syria if it was backed up by evidence from United Nations weapons inspectors, who are investigating the attack.
They are due to finish their work on Friday and give their preliminary findings to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the weekend.
After the vote Prime Minster David Cameron said it was clear Parliament did not want action and “the government will act accordingly”.
Chancellor George Osborne told Radio 4’s Today programme there would now be “national soul searching about our role in the world”.
He added: “I hope this doesn’t become a moment when we turn our back on all of the world’s problems.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond had told BBC’s Newsnight programme that he and the prime minister were “disappointed” with the result, saying it would harm Britain’s “special relationship” with Washington.
But he said he did not expect Britain’s decision to “stop any action” by other countries.
After the vote Labour leader Ed Miliband said the result meant military action was “off the agenda”, and added that MPs had reacted against the prime minister’s “cavalier and reckless” leadership.
“I think today the House of Commons spoke for the British people who said they did not want a rush to war,” he said.
Mr Miliband said Britain’s relationship with the US “cannot simply be about doing what the American president says he wants you to do”.
He said on Friday that Mr Cameron must “find other ways” to put pressure on Mr Assad.
The result of the vote was condemned by former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown, who tweeted that in “50 years trying to serve my country I have never felt so depressed [or] ashamed”.
He later told the BBC that by doing nothing President Assad will use chemical weapons more “those weapons will become more commonplace in the Middle East battlefield” and “we will feel the effects of that as well”.
Thirty Conservative and nine Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the government’s motion.
The defeat comes as a potential blow to the authority of Mr Cameron, who had already watered down a government motion proposing military action, in response to Labour’s demands for more evidence of President Assad’s guilt.
The BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson said the prime minister had now lost control of his own foreign and defence policy, and as a result he will cut a diminished figure on the international stage.
He added that some strong advocates of the transatlantic relationship were worried that America may now question the value and reliability of Britain as an ally.
During the debate, Labour had seen its own amendment – calling for “compelling” evidence that the regime was responsible for chemical attacks – rejected by MPs by 114 votes.
But, unexpectedly, MPs also rejected the government’s motion.
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said the government defeat was down to the “fatally flawed” case put to MPs by Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, claiming the pair’s credibility was now diminished.
‘The system works’
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said so many of Mr Cameron’s own MPs had voted with Labour because they were now “unwilling to take him at his word”.
Conservative rebel Crispin Blunt said he hoped the vote would “relieve ourselves of some of this imperial pretension that a country of our size can seek to be involved in every conceivable conflict that’s going on around the world”.