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Opinion poll blow to May

Theresa May

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May will be dismayed by the result of the first opinion poll taken since she joined America and France in launching a military strike against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria for his alleged use of chemical weapons.

This is the first opinion poll, conducted on Saturday by a company called Survation which interviewed 2,071 members of the public on behalf of the Mail on Sunday.

At a time when May might have hoped for a surge in nationalistic pride, 54 per cent said she was wrong to order strikes by Royal Air Force Tornado without the consent of Parliament, while only 30 per cent backed her (there were 16 per cent don't knows).

When asked if people supported the bombing, only 36 per cent said they did, while 40 per cent were against, with 24 per cent don't knows.

May's personal rating remains comfortably ahead of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - 46 per cent to 25 per cent, with 29 per cent don't knows.

On Monday, on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, the British Prime Minister is due to make a statement to the Commons on Syria when several of her own Tory MPs have expressed doubt about the wisdom of going to war without the express backing of Parliament.

On Sunday a former Labour minister and navy chief, Lord West, said it made no military sense for Assad to have used chemical weapons when he was winning the war anyway. He did not rule out one of the rebel groups using it as a tactic to provoke western military action against Assad.

Corbyn, who has already said the grounds for military action were legally questionable, told the BBC One's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: "What we need in this country is something more robust, like a war powers act, so that governments do get held to account by Parliament for what they do in our name."

A summary of the advice given by attorney-general Jeremy Wright to the Prime Minister was released by Downing Street.

The document said the UK met three demands under international law - that there is convincing evidence of extreme humanitarian distress, there is no practicable alternative to the use of force, and the action is necessary and proportionate.

The document added: "In these circumstances, and as an exceptional measure on grounds of overwhelming humanitarian necessity, military intervention to strike carefully considered, specifically identified targets in order effectively to alleviate humanitarian distress by degrading the Syrian regime's chemical weapons capability and deterring further chemical weapons attacks was necessary and proportionate and therefore legally justifiable."

Opinion

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