Even if chemical weapons were used in Syria on rebel fighters or civilians, fewer than one in five would support sending British troops there
Last week Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC that the use of chemical weapons in Syria should be considered a "red line" which, if crossed, means the international community must "do more". US President Barack Obama had announced the day before that American intelligence sources believed chemical weapons had been used, and that the verified use of such weapons would be a "game changer" bringing a major US response.
However, new YouGov research reveals that the use of chemical weapons is impactful, but not transformational for British public opinion. When asked whether they would support a number of different actions by Britain, only one — the only purely humanitarian, non-military option — received majority (72%) support, and the amount of support was virtually unchanged (at 71%) when it was suggested that chemical weapons had been used.
The only other action that received greater support than opposition in either scenario was providing "protective clothing", an action supported by 46% and opposed by 30%, or supported by 50% and opposed by 29% if chemical weapons were used.
With the use of chemical weapons, support for sending defensive military supplies to the Anti-Assad troops increases from 20% to 32%; support for sending small arms increases from 17% to 27%; support for sending full-scale military supplies increases from 11% to 22%; and support for sending British troops to Syria increases from just one in ten (10%) to 17%.
The results comes one month after Britons were asked the same question (without mention of chemical weapons) in another YouGov survey, and there has been little or no change in support for action of any kind since then.