Jeremy Corbyn demands urgent UK security meeting after US airstrike
4 January 2020, 01:04 | Updated: 4 January 2020, 08:50
Jeremy Corbyn has demanded an urgent Privy Council meeting over the US killing of Iran's top military chief as the Pentagon announced it will send 3,000 more troops to the Middle East.
The Labour leader wrote to the prime minister to ask a series of questions, including what the UK government knew ahead of the airstrike which killed Major General Qassem Soleimani.
He also asked if there was an increased terror risk in the UK and whether Boris Johnson had spoken to US President Donald Trump.
Mr Corbyn also wanted to know if the UK had spoken to the UN "to discuss consequences for peace and security" and what measures had been taken to "ensure the safety of UK nationals".
He said: "Given the serious nature of the issues now faced by our country and indeed the world as a consequence of the US attack, I would welcome a prompt response to this request and stand ready to attend any briefing meeting as soon as arranged."
It is understood there are no plans to send more British troops to the region and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for a calming of tensions from all sides.
Maj Gen Soleimani, the head of Tehran's elite Quds Force who spearheaded military operations in the Middle East, was targeted in an attack at Baghdad's international airport on Friday.
The prime minister is currently on holiday on the private Caribbean island of Mustique with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds and Number 10 has yet to confirm when the pair are due to return to Downing Street.
But there has been criticism of the US for apparently not giving warning of the attack to the UK, which has hundreds of troops deployed in Iraq.
Mr Corbyn described the strike as an "assassination" and called on the government to stand up to the "belligerent actions" from the US.
Mr Raab issued a statement saying the government had "always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force" led by the general.
"Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests," Mr Raab added.
Prominent Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, who was chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last parliament, was critical of the US for not giving the UK warning of the attack, though the government did not confirm it was not briefed in advance.
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He urged the White House to "share much more closely with allies" in the future, adding that "the purpose of having allies is that we can surprise our enemies and not each other".
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said there were around 400 British troops deployed in Iraq as part of the UK's fight against the Islamic State terror group.
A further 500 personnel are based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus which flies fast jets and reconnaissance planes over Iraq and Syria, the MoD added.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, a former defence minister who served as a captain in the Army, tweeted "this is big", adding: "Expect repercussions."
The Foreign Office advises British-Iranian dual nationals against all travel to Iran and for other British nationals to seek the department's advice before travelling to the nation.
British nationals risk being arbitrarily detained or arrested by Tehran, the department warned.
Meanwhile, British drivers could face higher petrol prices following the attack after oil prices spiked by 3.6% to $68.75 per barrel.
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(c) Sky News 2020: Jeremy Corbyn demands urgent UK security meeting after US airstrike