Cameron wins vote by majority 174; “moral and practical”
Earlier in the evening, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said raids could begin “very quickly” because jets are already stationed in the Middle East where they are carrying out attacks in Iraq.
Opening the debate, the prime minister admitted that his case for airstrikes was complex, but said the question was whether the UK should go after “the terrorists in their heartlands, from where they are plotting to kill British people” or “sit back and wait for them to attack us”.
Among the standout speeches in the course of the mammoth 10 hour debate was Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn’s closing remarks, which called on MPs to act following the atrocities in Paris last month.
The “carnage” in Paris “brought home the present danger” to the UK and fostered the need to act against the extremists, he said, because it could have been and “could still be” a British city.
Benn added it is Britain’s “moral and practical” duty to extend airstrikes into Syria.
Benn said: “We are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt.”
Britain was expected to launch immediate airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria after MPs voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday night to authorise an extension of bombing.
Four British fighter planes were seen taking off from their airbase at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus hours after the vote. Their destination was not immediately clear.