Despite new evidence that chemical weapons were used, British public opposition to all forms of military involvement in the Syria crisis has hardened significantly
The United States is gearing up to launch a military attack on Syria that has become increasingly likely following announcements by senior Republicans in Congress that they will support the President. Across the pond, and despite the presentation of further evidence of a chemical weapons attack, new YouGov research finds that the British public now oppose missile attacks by more than three to one. This is up from two to one before the vote which saw British lawmakers block Prime Minister Cameron's call to help the United States in Syria.
69% now oppose using British missiles against military sites inside Syria, while only 21% support. Opposition is at its highest since YouGov first asked the question, before a motion supporting missile strikes in principle was defeated in the House of Commons last Thursday; from 50% on 26-27 August and 51% on 27-28 August. Support for an attack is actually higher than American support for launching 'airstrikes', which only 17% of Americans supported in the week of August 26th.
Sending defensive military supplies to anti-Assad troops is opposed by 62%, up from 50% on 26-27 August; sending full-scale military supplies is opposed by 77%, up from 61%; and using British aircraft and missiles to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria is opposed by 50%, up from 42%.
Confidence in Parliament’s decision has also solidified: 73% now say the right choice was made compared to 68% over the weekend.
After the defeat the British government has shifted its attention towards the plight of Syrian refugees, with the country's Foreign Secretary William Hague tweeting yesterday: ‘1 year ago: 230,000 Syrian refugees. Today: 2,000,000. 1/2 children. If we don't end the conflict, think what the figure could be next year.’ YouGov finds that only 24% would support Britain reconsidering missile attacks if the ‘refugee crisis in Syria got worse,’ however. By comparison, 45% would support a reappraisal if there were ‘further chemical attacks.’
Israel and the US yesterday carried out joint missile tests in the Mediterranean, possibly in preparation for strikes on Syria. President Obama, after following David Cameron’s lead in deciding to put intervention to vote in Congress, has won the support of the GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner as well as other prominent figures from both parties. Congress is expected to vote next week.