He described the invasion as 'an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext'
Jeremy Corbyn has forcefully criticised the process by which the Iraq war was begun in a statement to the House of Commons, after 13 years of opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
While his statement was more measured than many expected, with little reference to the personal failures of Tony Blair and his administration, Corbyn may be saving his harshest critique for a speech to his closest supporters at a Momentum rally later this afternoon.
Following the prime minister’s statement, which summarised some of the Chilcot Report’s key findings and emphasised the need for further debate, Corbyn began his response with a tribute to the hundreds of British service people killed and wounded in Iraq, and the tens of thousands of Iraqis who lost their lives.
He then quickly jumped to the core of his critique, arguing that the invasion was:
“…an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext, as the inquiry accepts, and has long been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion.”
Although he did not mention Blair by name, Corbyn — having made clear his belief in the war’s illegality — said that ‘those who took the decisions laid bare in Chilcot report must face up to the consequences of their actions -whatever they may be.’
This statement is likely a forewarning that Corbyn plans to support legal action of some kind against Blair and others.
Corbyn was highly critical of all his parliamentary colleagues who had voted for the war in 2003, despite widespread public opposition, including the largest demonstration in British history.
He suggested that the decision caused a ‘fundamental breakdown of trust in politics and in our institutions of government.’
Blair himself issued a statement immediately after the publication of the report, saying it ‘should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit’, continuing:
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“Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.”