The PM arrived at the Commons yesterday afternoon looking tanned. Several times he adjusted the knot of his tie, perhaps unused to the feel of it after his time away on holiday.
The House was to be updated on three subjects. These were, first, progress in discussions with the European Commission on the subject of tax evasion, second the deteriorating situation in Syria and the decision recently taken by the EU to lift the arms embargo the Syrian National Opposition, and third to give an update on the investigation into the recent murder in Woolwich of Lee Rigby. Syria was to dominate proceedings.
On tax evasion, Cameron said that the free exchange of tax information between jurisdictions was now a “headline priority,” for Britain’s forthcoming chairmanship of the G8. This information exchange had been agreed among members states of the EU: the sharing of company tax details would be the default position among European states.
On Syria, the Prime Minister said that unless the government did more to support the opposition, then extremism would flourish and Assad would continue to massacre his own people. The Syrian National Coalition has been recognised by the British government, said the PM. There would be clear safeguards to ensure that any arms that were supplied by EU states to the Opposition would be used only for the purpose of safeguarding civilians.
On the matter of the Woolwich killing, the Prime Minister briefly outlined the ten arrests to have taken place so far in connection with the enquiry into the murder of Lee Rigby—eight men and two women—along with a promise that the Intelligence Select Committee, chaired by Malcolm Rifkind, would run an investigation into the security implications of the event, reporting at the year’s end.
“We have to ask some tough questions,” about the circumstances surrounding the killing, said the PM, and the elements of British society that create people willing to carry out such brutal acts. The PM’s new task force into radicalisation, which met for the first time yesterday morning, will examine the vexed question of how extremists are produced, with particular attention to the radicalising effects of universities, the roles of charities that are fronts for other activities and also to…