Chancellor 'forced to back Iraq war'

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It was only five days before Britain went to war with Iraq that the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, offered his unequivocal support for the invasion which began in March 2003, the former home secretary David Blunkett has said.

Mr Brown's support was offered after the Chancellor realised he might lose his job if he did not suppress doubts about the war, Mr Blunkett claimed.

He said that Mr Brown realised: "He either bats in and holds the Chancellor's job or he fails to bat in and Tony will take him out when the military action is finished."

The former home secretary also said in The Guardian that meetings of the Iraq war cabinet, which Mr Blunkett took part in, were often tense as ministers' questions over the post-war reconstruction of Iraq were "never satisfactorily resolved".

He said that during one meeting Tony Blair became "really angry" when he was pushed on post-war strategy and later apologised for losing his temper.

Mr Brown dismissed reports that Mr Blunkett had accused him of offering public support for the war only at the last minute. "I don't think David Blunkett has ever said such a thing. If he is reported as saying that, he has been entirely misquoted," the Chancellor said.