After a day of debate in the Commons and the concluding vote by MPs, prime minister Cameron said: “I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons,” 

“It is very clear tonight that, while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly.”

Dozens of Conservative MPs dropped support for the prime minister and voted against the motion, which halted plans for the UK to join the United States in strikes set to begin as soon as this weekend.

%TNT Magazine% syria protesters outside houses of parliament
Protesters gathered yesterday outside the Houses of Parliament (Getty images)

The Telegraph said that the vote ‘highlights the deep mistrust of official intelligence in the wake of the Iraq war.’

Writing in The Guardian, former UN weapons inspector and diplomat Hans Blix said “To punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons would be the action of self-appointed global policemen – action that, in my view, would be very unwise.”

Chancellor George Osborne told BBC Radio 4’s Today show he thought there would be “national soul searching about our role in the world”

“I hope this doesn’t become a moment when we turn our back on all of the world’s problems,” said Osborne. 

Labour leader Ed Miliband, who angered Conservatives by demanding six concessions in order for his party to support military action, including a second vote after the UN weapons inspectors’ report, said: “The prime minister has been cavalier and reckless. The result of the vote must be respected.”