Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott faced a grilling from the BBC’s Nick Robinson on the Today programme, in which she was repeatedly asked what Labour would do about chemical attacks in Syria if it was in power.
Here is a transcript of the key exchange:
Diane Abbott: Labour believes in the rule of the law and we hope that there will be an independent UN-led investigation.
Nick Robinson: Why wasn’t there one after the last chemical attack? Why hasn’t there been a single UN-led investigation since the Syrian war began eight years ago?
DA: We have to go forward and we have to go forward on the basis of the facts and the evidence…
NR: You’re calling for something that hasn’t happened for eight years so why hasn’t it happened?
DA: We think it should happen.
NR: Why hasn’t it happened?
DA: You’d have to ask the UN but we think…
NR: I’ll tell you why it hasn’t happened, because Russia have vetoed such a call six times.
DA: The Labour party believes that there is no military solution to the situation in Syria. There is a political…
NR: Imagine you’re in office now, Jeremy Corbyn, we know, thinks there could be an election by the end of the year. He would be Prime Minister in No 10, you would be sitting around a war cabinet table, you recommend that the UN should investigate and officials say to you ‘it’s a very interesting idea minister but Russia has vetoed such an investigation six times and they will do it again.’ So what now?
DA: There has to be a political negotiation because you’re never going to solve the situation in Syria whilst Assad has the tacit support of Russia…
NR: I’m asking you a specific question: if Russia vetoes, what you are calling for in the Labour party – which they have done six times already – what would be the reaction of a Labour government in that circumstance?
DA: We would press on trying to bring people to the table. We believe that more bombing is not the answer to the crisis in Syria.