KEIR Starmer is guilty of an “abandonment” of principles after appearing to U-turn on another of his “10 pledges”, a former Labour MP has said.

It comes after Starmer said he “fully supported” the UK Government’s decision to take part in joint military action with the US aimed at the Houthi insurgent group in Yemen.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said MPs should have been allowed to “debate and scrutinise” plans before any military operations were undertaken, and has called on the UK Government to prove the legal basis for the attacks.

Yousaf’s argument echoes a pledge made by Starmer during his bid to become Labour leader.

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In 2020, Starmer said a Labour government he led would “introduce a Prevention of Military Intervention Act and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy”.

Speaking to Andrew Marr at the time, he said: “I would pass legislation that said military action could be taken if first the lawful case for it was made, secondly there was a viable objective, and thirdly you got the consent of the Commons.”

Sky News reported in 2023 that the “proposed Prevention Of Military Intervention Act has now morphed into mandating a parliamentary vote”.

However, asked on Friday about the attack on the Houthi group in the Red Sea region, Starmer appeared to U-turn on his previous commitments and back Sunak’s decision to take action without consulting MPs.

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to the media outside BBC Broadcasting House in London, after appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. Picture date: Sunday January 15, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS

The Labour leader (above) said: “Clearly the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea have to be dealt with, their attacks on commercial shipping, attacks on important trade routes and putting civilian lives at risk and therefore, we do support this action.

“I do think there needs to be a statement in Parliament, which isn’t sitting today so it’s for the Government to make sure there’s a statement in Parliament as soon as possible at the first opportunity, to set out the justification, to set out the limits and scope of the operation.”

Les Huckfield, who served as a Labour MP for 16 years and an MEP for five, said Starmer was guilty of an abandonment of principle.

He told The National: “It's not just simply a U-turn, it's the abandonment of what ought to be an issue of principle.

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“If we're now going to presume that the Government using its executive authority can bomb anyone it likes without going to parliament first, I have to say first of all that's very worrying, and internationally, I don't think that's a very moral position to take.”

Huckfield went on: “With Starmer and Labour now we've come to expect that they'll take a position one day and then the following day they'll retract. So, Starmer changing his mind is nothing new. That's now become the accepted par for the course as far as Labour is concerned.

“But there is a principle here – and it's also a principle which some members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the States have pushed very, very hard to get established – that before you start engaging in any way in bombing and particularly the kind of thing I think which may now happen with the Houthis, is you come to parliament and you have it debated and discussed and agreed first.

“If Starmer is now prepared to abandon all of that, I have to say what will now happen to the Labour party's moral authority, because I don't think it can any more claim to have any.”

The National: An RAF Typhoon in a base in Cyprus after taking part in bombing attacks on YemenAn RAF Typhoon in a base in Cyprus after taking part in bombing attacks on Yemen

He added: “Don't let anybody think that this is just a sort of ad-hoc strike or one night stand. When you start using RAF bases or UK RAF bases to support this operation, that's pretty significant.

“It won't just stop with the Houthis. It will now expand. They may have a go at UK and US embassies. That should now be considered to be on the cards.”

Nick Dearden, the director of equality campaign group Global Justice Now, criticised the “bomb first, think later” approach taken by the UK Government.

“Those who launched last night’s attacks on Yemen accept their actions risk escalating attacks in the Red Sea and building support for the Houthis, but they seem content to accept their path of death and destruction as collateral damage,” Dearden said.

“Yemen is a desperately poor country, and the UK and US are complicit in its impoverishment, having backed Saudi’s deadly war attacks there for years.”

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Saudi Arabia intervened in the Yemeni civil war on the side of president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2015, targeting Houthi positions in the country in a severe campaign which led to a “humanitarian catastrophe”, according to UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Stephen O’Brien.

In February 2020, Labour MP Jo Stevens shared an article claiming that Western powers including the United States, United Kingdom and France were dragging out the war in Yemen for private profit.

She wrote: “The staying power of the conflict in Yemen is its greatest tragedy – one which our current Tory government refuses to look in the face.”

Responding, Starmer wrote on social media: “@JoStevensLabour is right – it’s why we should stop the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, as we said in our manifesto.

“I want us to go further and review all arms sales, as well as halting the sales to Saudi Arabia that are creating the horrifying humanitarian suffering in Yemen.”

Labour has been asked for comment.