Saturday 18 November 2017

Clegg to tell UN Britain 'regrets' Iraq war

Jon Swaine in New York

Britain regrets going to war in Iraq and knows it must work to repair the damage done to its international standing, Nick Clegg will tell world leaders later today.

In a speech to the UN, the UK's deputy prime minister will say the country has learnt "the hard way" that democracy cannot be imposed on other countries. While he will not use the word sorry, he will come close to apologising for the war, which he believes was in breach of international law.

His speech to the UN General Assembly risks dividing Britain's coalition government by antagonising senior Conservatives, whose party backed Tony Blair's decision to invade with the US in 2003.

Mr Clegg will promise world leaders that his government will restore their trust in Britain, and will commit to multilateralism by calling for a greater role for the UN in conflicts.


In a passage about the "values" of Britain's new foreign policy, Mr Clegg will say that he and David Cameron, the prime minister, will take a more "realistic" approach.

"In recent years we have learnt that democracy cannot be created by diktat," he will say. "Freedom cannot be commanded into existence." The passage suggests regret over Britain's role in the war Iraq, which was not explicitly backed by the UN Security Council.

Mr Clegg's party, the Liberal Democrats, consistently opposed the invasion. The deputy prime minister caused controversy earlier this year, when standing in for Mr Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions, saying that the invasion had been illegal.

It forced Downing Street to issue an unusual statement explaining that the coalition government did not have a view on the legality of the war.

Mr Clegg will also acknowledge that Tony Blair damaged relations with some of Britain's most important international allies by allying himself with George Bush's government.

"The government will restore Britain's international reputation by pursuing a hard-headed foreign policy based on liberal values," he will add. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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