Call for Tories to explain Iraq support
As former Prime Minister Tony Blair gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, Liberal Democrat MPs have called for the Conservative Party to explain its support for the Iraq War.
In 2003, Conservatives voted with the Government to send British troops into military action, while all Liberal Democrats MPs opposed the war. Tony Blair relied on Conservative votes to carry the motion authorising conflict, since 139 Labour MPs rebelled against their party’s whip.
Both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were shown the same intelligence relating to Iraq’s alleged stock of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Yet Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell campaigned with millions of protestors in London and all over Britain to give UN weapons inspectors more time to complete their work, and confirm whether or not Iraq presented a threat.
Iain Duncan Smith led Conservative MPs in demanding a rush to war as early as 2002.
Commenting, North Cornwall’s MP, Dan Rogerson said:
“The Chilcot Inquiry has laid bare Tony Blair’s determination to join with US military action in Iraq come what may, and no matter the evidence.
“Indeed, the Government’s chief legal adviser was clearly leant on – and despatched to the United States to have his mind changed – to give clear advice that the war was legal, even though he manifestly had substantial doubts that it was.
“It seems he was compelled to polarise and distil a complex picture for the Government’s political convenience.”
Lord Tyler, who was Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the Commons at the time of the Iraq vote, added:
“The Inquiry is confirming our worst suspicions about the events leading up to the Commons vote.
“Yet, what is not clear is why Conservative MPs, who joined Tony Blair and his Government in the lobbies to vote for war, should have taken the fateful decisions they did.
“If they had done their job as an opposition, Britain could not have participated in the war, since Labour was unable to carry a Commons vote on its own.
“The Tories were shown the same intelligence and knew the same things as the Liberal Democrats, yet they were even more eager to go into Iraq than the Government was.
“Their MPs even yelled abuse at Liberal Democrats for asking tough questions about it.
“Now that Gordon Brown has agreed to give evidence before the election, senior Conservatives should surely come to the Inquiry too.
“The public cannot judge their fitness for office until they have heard an explanation for the Conservatives’ rush to war.”