Theresa May summons cabinet to decide on Syria response

British prime minister Theresa May is set to make a decision about military action threatened by the United States and its allies, following the chemical attack in Syria

British prime minister Theresa May has summoned the cabinet to discuss the government’s response to the suspected chemical attack in Syria.

May will discuss the next steps with her cabinet colleagues on Thursday, after summoning the emergency meeting, insisting that chemical weapons attack on Douma “cannot go unchallenged”.

Ministers will consider the options for backing military action threatened by the United States and its allies.

Theresa May is prepared to take action against the Assad regime in Syria without first seeking parliamentary consent.

Downing Street sources said they would take “one step at a time”, but with the US president, Donald Trump, pressing for urgent action, they did not rule out bypassing the convention that parliament is offered a vote before military action.

The allies want to prevent a repeat of an apparent chemical attack in Douma.

May has said "all the indications" are that the Syrian regime of president Bashar al-Assad, which denies mounting a chemical attack, was responsible.

If the cabinet approves UK involvement in military action, that would open the way for British forces to join an operation against Syrian targets that US President Donald Trump has said in a tweet "will be coming".

Johnny Mercer, the MP for Plymouth MP, said: “Binding votes on foreign policy, guided by extremely sensitive intelligence which can never be shared in the Commons, are a bad idea. They can help shape debate – the view of the Commons is extremely important – but must never inhibit our ability to act.”

May is reluctant to ask President Trump to hold off any action until she has the opportunity to consult MPs.

During a briefing on Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders appeared to row back on President Trump's earlier warning to Russia that it should "get ready" for missile strikes against its ally.

In a telephone call with Trump and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, on Tuesday, May agreed that “the international community needed to respond to uphold the worldwide prohibition on the use of chemical weapons”.

She told reporters that the president had "a number of options at his disposal and a number remain on the table", but added: "We haven't laid out any specific actions we plan to take."

May has described the alleged use of chemical weapons as a "humanitarian catastrophe" that "cannot go unchallenged".

She did not comment on Donald Trump's tweet warning Russia to "get ready" for missiles being fired at its ally Syria.

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