British public split over support for Donald Trump’s missile strike in Syria, says poll

Ashley Cowburn
President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: AFP

British public opinion is split over Donald Trump’s decision to launch a barrage of missiles on a Syrian airbase following a chemical weapons attack on civilians, according to a new poll.

The poll by ComRes for The Independent found that 38 per cent of respondents believed that the US President was right to launch the offensive – a change in tactics from the previous administration –while 35 per cent disagreed. Over 20 per cent registered a “don’t know” response.

The unpredictable US President ordered the firing of 59 Tomahawk Cruise missiles from the USS Porter and USS Ross into the Sharyat airfield in western Homs in retaliation to the use of chemical weapons on civilians, allegedly by Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorial regime.

In what was described as a “heinous act”, dozens of residents in the Idlib province of the war-ravaged region were killed after being exposed to a toxic gas, which reports have suggested was dropped from warplanes belonging to the Syrian regime. President Assad, however, has dismissed claims his forces were responsible for the attack as a “100% fabrication”.

The poll also found that British adults are more likely to say that the UK Government should not take military action against President Assad – 42 per cent disagree versus 25 per cent who agree – but a third of respondents were unsure.

Respondents were also split when they were asked whether they agreed with the statement: “The situation in Syria would be better now if Britain and other Western allies had used military force in 2013.” The poll found 31 per cent agreed with the statement, while 27 per cent disagreed.

Asked about Boris Johnson’s capabilities at the helm of the Foreign Office and whether he “is a hindrance to the Government’s foreign policy objectives”, the public are also split: 37 per cent agreed while 32 per cent disagreed.

It comes after Mr Johnson was left humiliated earlier this week as other members of the G7 rejected his public plea to place further sanctions on Russia for its ongoing support, both politically and militarily, to the Syrian regime.

As tensions on the Korean peninsula mounted, raising fears of a nuclear war in the region, those who responded to the poll also believed North Korea was a bigger threat to world peace than the current crisis in Syria by 46 per cent to 22 per cent who disagreed. Just over 30 per cent replied “don’t know”.

Thousands of civilians gathered in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, on Saturday to recognise the Annual Day of the Sun, which marks the birth of Kim II-sung, who founded the country’s totalitarian system and the Juche ideology now enforced by his grandson.

ComRes interviewed 2,029 GB adults online between 11th and 13th April 2017. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Data were also weighted by past vote recall. Voting intention figures are calculated using the ComRes Voter Turnout Model. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.