RISHI Sunak defended failing to consult the House of Commons before launching airstrikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen as he faced MPs for the first time since the UK intervention.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn demanded to know what the Prime Minister’s “strategy” was and questioned “how far he is willing to go” in attacking the Islamist group.

RAF and American jets, ships and submarines launched attacks on Yemen on Friday – sparking anger the Commons had not been consulted on military action.

Both America and the UK have said the attacks on the Houthi rebels came in retaliation for their attacks on international shipping vessels.

The Houthis have said their attacks were in solidarity with Palestinians, who have been under siege by Israel since October, with more than 24,000 people killed.

Speaking in the Commons, the Prime Minister told MPs the UK had “destroyed” 13 “planned targets”, adding: “We have seen no evidence thus far of civilian causalities, which we took great care to avoid.”

Reuters reported last week explosions had been seen near military bases near airports in the capital Sanaa and Yemen’s third city Taiz. The agency also reported explosions had been confirmed by witnesses at Yemen's main Red Sea port Hodeidah and military sites in the coastal Hajjah governorate.

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Sunak (below) added: “The need to maximise the security and effectiveness of the operation meant that it was not possible to bring this matter to the House in advance.

“But we took care to brief members before the strikes took place, including you of course Mr Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition, and I have come to the House at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The National: Rishi Sunak

The SNP were among those to demand Parliament be recalled over the weekend to debate the strikes.

Flynn used his contribution to raise the spectre of possible future military interventions against the Houthis.

“If, as has been suggested through their actions in the last 12 hours or so, the message which we sought to send has not been received, then what do we intend to do,” asked Flynn.

“What is the plan? What is the Prime Minister’s strategy? Will he come to the despatch box and, unlike his predecessors in relation to Middle East conflicts in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, lay out when and how far he is willing to go, in relation to military action?”

READ MORE: Strikes on Yemen will only entrench deep animosity towards the West

Flynn warned of the risk the conflict could escalate further, risking greater “regional instability”.

He rejected the Houthi’s “narratives” that their attacks were linked to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza – but added: “We cannot escape from the fact that a ceasefire in Gaza is essential for that wider regional stability.”

And he criticised the Prime Minister for failing to recall the House to debate the strikes, saying: “It is what the public would have expected.”

Sunak said he would not “speculate” on Britain’s future involvement in Yemen, adding: “What we conducted was intended as a single limited action.”

But he added that he “would not hesitate to protect” merchant ships, many of which were re-rerouted thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea, where the Houthis were targeting ships.

Sunak added: “We should also recognise the risks of inaction. Because doing nothing would absolutely weaken international security and the rule of law.”

The National: Keir Starmer

Labour leader Keir Starmer (above) said he backed the Prime Minister for taking action against the Houthis but claimed they could also bring “risks”.

While Labour said over the weekend the party understood why the Commons had not been consulted on the initial strikes, Starmer added: “Can [the Prime Minister] confirm that he stands by the parliamentary convention that where possible military interventions by the UK Government – particularly if they are part of a sustained campaign – should be brought before this House?”

Sunak replied: “I can assure him that it was necessary to strike at speed, as he acknowledged, to protect the security of these operations.

“That is in accordance with the convention and I remain committed to that convention and would always look to follow appropriate processes and procedures and also act in line with precedent – where he will know there have been strikes in 2015 and 2018 where a similar process as to this was followed.”