Theresa May has now given the country a £56m reason to show her the door

May Trump GE2017
Tracy Keeling

Theresa May has now given voters in the country a £50m reason to boot her out of Downing Street.

Her party regularly talks about Labour’s supposedly “irresponsible” spending plans. But she has now pledged to spend at least £50m of taxpayers’ money on one particular endeavour. And it’s one that will no doubt satisfy US President Donald Trump.

‘We’re with Trump’

As The Guardian reports, May is planning to draw the UK into Trump’s latest war if the Tories win in the upcoming general election. And Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently suggested such action might go ahead without consulting parliament. But a Whitehall source now claims that May is considering allowing MPs to vote on the matter. If, that is, she gains a bigger Conservative majority in the election.

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Trump started his latest intervention in early April. He bombed a Syrian airbase following an apparent chemical attack in the country. Intelligence agencies and military officials suspect President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are responsible for the attack. But renowned scholar Noam Chomsky is just one of the people questioning that narrative. Speaking at the Mullin Centre, Chomsky said:

First of all, do we know what happened? Actually we don’t. We know that there was use of chemical weapons. Before any action should be taken, one should first try to find out what happened. Well, I don’t know. But there are perfectly credible figures who have raised very serious questions about it.

Just this morning there was a very important article… that came out by Theodore Postol. [An] MIT scientist who’s been one of the most sophisticated and successful analysts of military strategic issues…

He went through in detail the White House intelligence report claiming that it was Syrians, and just tears it to shreds.

Human Rights Watch has also now produced a report implicating Assad in the attack. But as Chomsky points out, at the time of the US counter-attack, Trump did not know for certain what had taken place. Nor did he seek out “international legitimacy” for carrying out the attack. He didn’t even ask for authorisation from his own US Congress.

At what cost?

According to The Guardian, the Conservative government is now “keen to line up fully alongside the US” in such potentially illegal choices. But it’s not advertising how much money this venture would cost UK taxpayers.

Trump used 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles in his attack on Syria. During a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump allegedly described the bombing as “after-dinner entertainment”. Reportedly, this amount of missiles would cost the US around $60m. And as Sky News noted in 2014, the UK buys these missiles from US supplier Raytheon at a price of £950,000 each.

So if Britain matched Trump’s firepower, it could cost taxpayers over £56m for one mission. That’s at 2014 prices, and the cost per missile will have almost certainly increased over the last three years. That’s also the amount before the cost of the aircraft carrier used to drop the bombs is factored in. Or before we add on the cost of the naval vessel that carries the missiles closer to the target. And, of course, we need to consider the cost of the military personnel carrying out the attack.

Dangerous games

That Theresa May wants to blow taxpayers’ money on all of this is shocking. And as the Stop the War Coalition said in a press release on 4 May:

To seek such a relationship with the most reactionary, xenophobic and unpredictable ​p​resident in US history is both shameful and dangerous.

Especially when, as Chomsky notes, Trump’s attack appeared to be “a pretty meaningless show of force”. Because it didn’t impact the Assad regime in any significant way.

The timing of the revelation about Theresa May’s Conservatives and a military escalation in Syria, meanwhile, is key. It suggests that May believes the plan will help her party to win the general election. If it does, though, that will be a damning indictment of where we now are. Because not only will more war just perpetuate itself, as we have witnessed for decades. But it will inevitably kill many more innocent people. And all the while, such action will be robbing British taxpayers blind.

If that’s something the UK electorate votes for, then it’ll be a sad day indeed.

Get Involved!

Take action with the Stop the War Coalition.

Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.

– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.

– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.

Featured image via Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/Flickr

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