Iraq war was illegal, says Blair's former deputy

A total of 179 British troops also died during the course of this war


Afp July 10, 2016
Britain's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott arrives for a weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London May 4, 2006. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON: Tony Blair's deputy as prime minister when Britain joined the invasion of Iraq has said he believes the war was illegal, days after a long-awaited report excoriated Britain's role in the conflict.

John Prescott, number two in the Labour government when Britain took part in the US-led invasion in 2003, made the remarks in a piece to be published in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

The Chilcot microscope

On Wednesday, the Chilcot report returned a damning verdict on Britain's role in the US-led war, finding it joined the conflict before all peaceful options had been exhausted and that judgements about Iraq's capacities were "presented with a certainty that was not justified".

It also disclosed Blair had written to then US president George W. Bush that "I will be with you, whatever" eight months before the invasion.

Prescott, now a member of the House of Lords, wrote: "I will live with the decision of going to war and its catastrophic consequences for the rest of my life.

Blair in spotlight as UK Iraq inquiry gives verdict

"In 2004, the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said that as regime change was the prime aim of the Iraq war, it was illegal.

"With great sadness and anger, I now believe him to be right."

Blair this week voiced "sorrow, regret and apology" over mistakes made in the conflict.

But he insisted the war was right and the world was safer without toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Seven years on, UK's Iraq inquiry gives its verdict

Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has apologised on behalf of the party for what he called "the disastrous decision" to go to war.

Some 150,000 Iraqi people were killed in the six years after British and American troops invaded, plunging the country into chaos and creating fertile ground for jihadist groups like the Islamic State.

A total of 179 British troops also died.

COMMENTS (4)

nadeem | 5 years ago | Reply The only reason anyone in Britain or USA is even bothered about the legality of the Iraq invasion is because 13 years later it still stares them in the face in one way or the other. First it was the daily drip-drip of their soldiers dying, later it was sectarian and ethnic conflicts with consequences for the West, and lately it has been ISIS piling up bodies in the West. Had there been no armed resistance to occupation back in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 ......., and had Iraq just become a quiet client state like Saudi Arabia, the West would have walked away beating its chest and the question of legality would never have been asked. Now that the mess is becoming messier a dozen years down the road, they are saying 'Hmmmmmmm maybe we shouldn't have attacked Iraq'. It's not about morality, it's only about the never ending cost to themselves.
NDA | 5 years ago | Reply This is clear manifestation of leaders letting down nations. UK may survive as a state but has already lost as a nation. This is price of telling lies, getting used by Bush and complicity in the killing of 100,000s in Iraq and elsewhere. No wonder radicalization is highest in UK and it has lost face in world community. Brexit will exact a much deeper price form British leaders.
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