Caroline Lucas MP
After 7 years and £10m spent, the findings of the Chilcot needed to lead to serious action, but none has been forthcoming.
The Chilcot report confirmed Tony Blair lied to the public, Parliament and his own Cabinet in order to drag us into the Iraq war. Privately, he said he would support George Bush ‘whatever’ eight months before the war – everyone else was told war could be avoided. Thousands of lives were lost because he put that promise before all the evidence in front of him.
Yet – despite the damning evidence against him contained in the Inquiry’s report – no action has been taken against the Former Prime Minister.
Tony Blair also went on to repeat a deliberate misrepresentation of the French position, both at Prime Minister’s questions on 12 March and in his key parliamentary statement on 18 March—he even included it in the war motion before the House.
In short, the French position was for more time for the weapons inspectors, but with war as an explicit possibility.
The former Prime Minister kept taking out of context phrases from an interview by President Chirac given on 10 March, saying that they showed that France would veto a resolution in any circumstances. That was clearly not true, and Chilcot shows that. The French kept correcting Blair, but Blair instructed Jack Straw, in Chilcot’s words, to “concede nothing”. Clearly that was because he needed to continue the misrepresentation of France to provide cover for his failure to get UN support for the war.
The Chilcot report shows how the French position had deliberately mischaracterized. According to Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair was clear on 15 March that the French position was flexible: he wrote that Blair “was ‘clear now what the French would try – yes to the tests, even to the possibility of military action, but they would push for a later date’” (quoted in The Chilcot Report, volume 3, p.505).
Blair however deliberately sought to undermine negotiations, by instructing the Foreign Secretary to be inflexible. He knew that it was inaccurate to say that France was rejecting the British-proposed ‘six tests’, and that there were no ‘final efforts to secure agreement’ on 17 March, because a final decision had already been taken by that point. On this key aspect of the debate of 18 March, which resulted in a vote to support military action, Mr Blair was directly and unambiguously misleading the House of Commons.
Chilcot also confirmed that Tony Blair had indeed decided to back the Iraq war far earlier than he has previously admitted. His claim that it was a war solely to eradicate WMDs was always deeply questionable and is now officially in tatters. Tony Blair knew he would never have garnered enough support for regime change – so he lied to Parliament and the Public to invade Iraq.
The consequences of the Iraq war are horrific, run deep, and are difficult to even begin to quantify. We know that many thousands of civilians are dead and hundreds of British troops were killed and injured. And today, civil wars are raging across the Middle East.
We need to learn lessons from the Iraq disaster. That’s why I’m working with MPs from across the political divide in calling on the on the Public Administration Select Committee of the House to further examine the lack of any process of accountability following the damning evidence presented by the Chilcot report. We were taken to war in a duplicitous way, and our political system must match that knowledge with a process that holds those responsible to account.