"This is all very unfortunate" said Prime Minister Cameron yesterday. "We wished the house to debate a government motion stating that
'This house condemns utterly the use of chemical weapons. If it can be proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the Syrian government has used such weapons, this country is prepared to act, alongside other countries, in support of a United Nations and/or Arab League resolution to use armed force in the form of specific and pre-defined punitive military strikes against the regime of President Assad.'"
"Unfortunately" continued the Prime Minister "Owing to a minor typographical error, the order paper presented to the House actually said
'This House approves the use by Her Majesty's Armed Forces of unlimited milititary force, of an unspecified nature and magnitude, for an unspecified duration and with unknown and unpredictable consequences, acting alone if necessary, if this government thinks President Assad might have used chemical weapons.'"
"Needless to say" admitted the PM "the inadvertant slight change of wording rather reduced the support which the motion got. In fact, there was a further unfortunate slight error when the outcome of the vote was recorded as stating that
'This House refuses to allow Her Majesty's government to use or threaten to use any military force whatever against President Assad's Regime, whatever atrocities he may be irrefutably proven to have committed, even if the UN and the Arab League launch strikes and beg for our support.'"
"Sometimes you just can't win in politics. But at least our motion was lost by a much narrower marginn than Miliband's motion, so ner."