The MP for South West Herts missed the vote on whether the UK should take military action against Syria – because he was on holiday in the south of France.
Tory David Gauke, who is also Treasury minister in David Cameron’s coalition government, said he would have returned – had his party whip not told him he didn’t have to.
Mr Gauke said: “I am supportive of the Prime Minister’s position. I think it is a great pity that the House of Commons voted the way it did last week. I was intending on returning to vote from a family holiday, but was given permission by the whips not to.”
He had already booked early flight tickets back to the UK, but it is understood that a ‘pairing’ agreement was reached with an MP who would have voted against the government’s motion to instead abstain so Mr Gauke could stay on holiday.
Parliament was recalled on Thursday to vote on whether military action should be taken against the Syrian government after it allegedly used chemical weapons against its own people.
The government backed the motion, but was opposed by opposition leader Ed Miliband and lost the vote. US president Barrack Obama also backs military intervention in Syria, but on Saturday took the unprecedented step of allowing the US Congress to vote on the matter.
Mr Gauke said: “I think the Prime Minister was right to consult parliament before taking action and he’s right to respect the opinion of parliament, and it may be that President Obama believes it’s right to take a similar approach.”
Mr Gauke said the world should send a clear message that using chemical weapons is unacceptable, and that Ed Miliband’s opposition to Thursday’s vote was based on ‘political opportunism’.