Brown refuses to accept blame for UK role in conflict
Published 06/03/2010 | 05:00
BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown attempted to distance himself from Tony Blair's divisive handling of the Iraq war yesterday as he refused to accept any blame for the series of catastrophic mistakes made during the campaign.
He insisted that he stood by the decision to topple Saddam Hussein, telling the Iraq inquiry: "It was the right decision made for the right reasons."
But he revealed he knew nothing about crucial last-minute changes to advice over the invasion's legality or the private assurances given by Mr Blair to former US president George W Bush about Britain's support for US-led military action.
Mr Brown, who was chancellor at the time of the war, also defiantly dismissed accusations he had starved the armed forces of resources, denying he could be blamed for shortages of military equipment.
He also blamed the failure to plan for the chaotic aftermath of the invasion on the US government, claiming he had pleaded with the White House to prepare more thoroughly for the power vacuum created by Saddam's removal.
A major security operation was mounted at the Queen Elizabeth Centre in London for Mr Brown's Chilcot Inquiry appearance, but fewer demonstrators turned up than when Mr Blair gave evidence in January. He did not face the jeers directed at the former prime minister when he declared he had no regrets for ordering the war.
The only interruption came as members of the audience laughed when Mr Brown repeatedly sidestepped a question.
Opposition parties seized on Mr Brown's performance as further evidence that he was incapable of taking responsibility for the failings over Iraq.
"Gordon Brown was a member of the inner circle, but, true to form, he didn't want to take any responsibility for decisions which had negative consequences," said Liam Fox, shadow defence secretary. (© Independent News Service)