George Osborne delivers ‘speech of the parliament’ on tragedy in Aleppo
Watch: The ex-chancellor told MPs that they share some responsibility for what is happening in Syria.
George Osborne has told MPs they have to take some responsibility for the chaos in Syria.
In his first major Commons speech since he was sacked as chancellor, Osborne said the bloodshed taking place in Aleppo, the hundreds of thousands fleeing Syria and the rise of the far right in Europe all showed the “price of not intervening”.
Speaking in an emergency debate about the conflict in Aleppo, he added: "Let's be clear now, if you don't shape the world, you will be shaped by it."
Osborne’s speech drew plaudits from Labour MPs, with John Woodcock calling it “the speech that should have been made from our despatch box”.
The intervention was also commended by senior political commentators, including the respected former Times political editor Philip Webster who branded it “speech of the parliament”.
ITV political editor Robert Peston said it was a “brilliant speech” by Osborne. And The Guardian and Evening Standard columnist Matthew d’Ancona said it was a “a first rate speech… and a reminder that he is much more than an ex-chancellor”.
In August 2013, Parliament rejected the government's case for possible intervention. Labour MPs, led by Ed Miliband, and Tory rebels voted down ministers’ proposals to launch strikes against Syrian government targets after the Assad Regime used chemical weapons against his own people.
Osborne told told Parliament: “We are deceiving ourselves in this Parliament if we believe we have no responsibility for what has happened in Syria.
“The tragedy in Aleppo did not come out of a vacuum; it was created by a vacuum, a vacuum of Western leadership – of American leadership, of British leadership. I take responsibility as somebody who sat on the National Security Council throughout those years, Parliament should take its responsibility because of what it prevented being done.”
That 2013 vote, he said, led to President Obama standing down and Congress becoming emboldened in demanding its own say before the US took action.
Osborne continued: “We have come to a point where it is impossible to intervene anywhere, that we lack the political will as a West to intervene. But I have some hope out of this terrible tragedy in Syria, which is we are beginning to learn the price of not intervening."