US Elections Editor

The majority of the British public would back an expansion of RAF air strikes against ISIS, and support for sending ground troops to the region is at an all-time high

This week defence secretary Michael Fallon urged MPs to consider expanding Britain’s involvement in the air campaign against ISIS into Syria. The latest tracking poll suggests that such a move would have public support – and following a series of deadly attacks on westerners most of the public want more to be done to combat the terror group.

Support for RAF participation in air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria stands at 57%, with 21% opposed. This is close to the number found in February, when 63% expressed approval, but there is other new evidence that the public remain broadly in favour of the anti-ISIS campaign. 

Six in ten tend to think Britain and other Western countries should be doing more to combat ISIS, while only 21% feel they are already doing all they usefully can.

Support for sending British and US ground troops to fight ISIS, meanwhile, is up. Public approval of sending troops now matches disapproval, 39% to 39%, with 22% undecided. In February the public leaned against by 45% to 32%.

Britain has played a relatively small role in the ongoing air campaign, with RAF planes helping to supply aid and occasionally joining bombing missions in Iraq. The defence secretary argues that ISIS control has rendered the Iraq-Syria border meaningless, so Britain’s contributions should not be limited by it. The United States already carries out strikes in Syria.

The public (61%) also express support for giving the security services wider powers to collect and monitor ordinary people’s communications, something the government is seeking.

There is also support for limits to these powers, however: 55% think placing someone under surveillance should require the approval of a judge, something recommended by a recent independent report on proposed terror legislation.  

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See the full poll results

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