Blair reveals extent of splits over Iraq

Now Reading:

Blair reveals extent of splits over Iraq

Text size Aa Aa

Tony Blair has been robustly defending his decision to take Britain into war against Iraq.

Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the conflict, the former British prime minister said he was convinced beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein posed a serious risk, even if the use of force was hotly contested.

“It is true that was very divisive. But it was divisive in the sense that there were two groups. There was also a very strong group in the international community, in parliament, even in the cabinet (there were those) who also thought it was the right thing to do. And so for example in the European Union at the time I think 13 of the 25 members were with America,” he said.

“It was a really tough situation, yes, and in the end, as I say, what influenced me was that my judgement ultimately was that Saddam was going to remain a threat,” Blair added.

During the morning session, Blair told the inquiry that 9/11 altered Britain’s risk assessment of Iraq.

“Here’s what changed for me the whole calculus of risk. It was my view then, it remains my view now. The point about this terrorist act was that over 3000 people had been killed on the streets of New York – an absolutely horrific event. After that time, my view was: you could not take risks with this issue at all. And one dimension of it, because we were advised, obviously, that these people would use chemical or biological weapons, or a nuclear device, if they could get hold of them… that completely changed our assessment of where the risks for security lay. And, just so we make this absolutely clear: this was not an American position; this was my position and the British position,” he said.

Blair was also questioned on the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, with the inquiry committee examining what military planning and procedures were studied to handle and respond to the huge deterioration in security.