Party leaders and spokespeople reserve particular criticism for Tony Blair
Ahead of David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn’s statements of the Iraq War, spokespeople for other parties have responded to the publication of the Chilcot Report, echoing the committee’s denunciation of the process by which Britain joined the invasion of Iraq.
Chilcot’s report was harsher than many expected. His key conclusions include:
- That the use of force was not a last resort, and other options had not been exhausted.
- That the degree of certainty Tony Blair expressed about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was not justified.
- That the planning for the period following the removal of Saddam Hussein was ‘wholly inadequate’.
- That Blair told President George Bush he would be ‘with him whatever’ as early as July 2002.
- That the process by which it was concluded that there was a legal basis for invasion was ‘far from satisfactory’.
- That hindsight was not required to understand the risks Iraq faced in the aftermath of the invasion.
In a statement, SNP MP Alex Salmond commented:
“We now know that long before Parliament formally voted on whether or not to go to war in Iraq, Tony Blair had told George Bush – ‘I will be with you whatever’.”
“The subsequent actions of the then Prime Minister blundered the country into a war that has caused the deaths of 179 UK armed forces personnel, and almost 200,000 Iraqi civilians, and led the world into the present nightmare instability in the Middle East.
“It is shameful that the Chilcot Report found the UK’s actions undermined the authority of the UN Security Council, and the Prime Minister’s lack of commitment to collective decision-making and his determination to stand with the US before diplomatic options had been exhausted, led the country prematurely to war.”
Salmond called for ‘consideration of what political or legal consequences are appropriate for those responsible’ and drew particular attention to Blair’s role.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that ‘Blair was fixated in joining Bush in going to war in Iraq regardless of the evidence, the legality or the serious potential consequences,’ going on to recognise his own party’s opposition to the war and to criticise the Conservatives as well as Labour:
“Charles Kennedy’s judgement has been vindicated in every respect. I hope those in the Labour and Conservative parties who were so forceful in their criticism of him and the Liberal Democrats at the time are equally forceful in their acknowledgements today that he was right.
An absence of scrutiny by the Conservative party opened the door for Blair and the Labour Government to pursue a counter-strategic, ill-resourced campaign.”
Green MP Caroline Lucas, who also addressed the anti-war demonstration outside the QEII centre where Chilcot gave his address, commented in a statement:
“Chilcot’s report is damning for Blair, his cabinet and all those MPs who voted to take this country into an illegal and immoral war in Iraq. Iraqis continue to pay the price for an invasion that took place long before other options for a peaceful resolution were explored.”
Lucas criticised all 411 MPs who voted for the war in 2003, saying that ‘should have taken note of the clear evidence presented to them’. She also called on David Cameron — the only one of the current Westminster leaders to have voted for the war — to ‘apologise in full for doing so.’
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